Nashville - Governor Phil Bredesen today vetoed House Bill 962, which would permit the possession of firearms in Tennessee restaurants and bars. Law enforcement officials and district attorneys from across the state flanked Bredesen as he spoke about his reasons for the veto.
"Let me be very clear: I am a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. I am, and have always been, committed to preserving the rights of the Second Amendment: basic American rights. These rights are protected by the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution as well," Bredesen said.
"However, these rights, for more than two centuries, have come with reasonable and necessary rules and guidelines. This bill crosses the line of reason. I have been a gun owner for over 50 years. When I was a young man, I took my first gun safety class – sponsored by the NRA – at my high school. There was one message conveyed during that class that has been imprinted on me since, and it was this: guns and alcohol don’t mix. That’s as true today as it was then.
"It is because of this principle that Tennessee state law has long prohibited the possession of firearms in places that serve alcohol. House Bill 962 would remove this safeguard in a manner that I, as well as many law enforcement officers, believe would be reckless and lacking safeguards to ensure public safety.
"A key role of government is to ensure public safety. To do that government must strike a balance between the rights afforded to us by the Constitution and common-sense rules that must be applied to the exercise of these rights. I believe we can exercise our second amendment rights and common sense at the same time – and guns and bars simply don't mix.
"Because of this, I am vetoing this bill and respectfully asking the legislature to rethink this issue."