Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rocky Top, You'll Always Be

Guns, Sweet Guns, To Me:

Cities and counties across Tennessee are preparing this week to deal with the fallout from a raft of pro-gun bills recently signed into law in the state, where Republicans are flexing their new-found strength in the legislature.

Among the new laws is one that would allow people who have gun permits to carry guns in all public parks in the state. Another would exempt from federal regulation guns and ammunition made in Tennessee and kept within its borders.

Gun-rights advocates say expanded rights are needed so that law-abiding citizens can protect themselves in more situations. “The purpose of this bill is to let people know we have state sovereignty and the federal government has no business telling us what to do,” State Senator Mae Beavers, a Mount Juliet Republican who sponsored the bill, said in an interview.
Damn straight. And what a better way to celebrate the one year anniversary next week of the Supreme Court's Heller decision than by eradicating gun-control laws and allow those packing heat into virtually any social situation. My favorites involve regulating "bars and cars."
The new Tennessee laws also include measures that will allow permit holders to carry guns in bars and restaurants, if they are not drinking alcohol, and to carry a loaded rifle or shotgun in their vehicles if the ammunition is in the magazine but not in the chamber, although it can be in the chamber for purposes of self-defense.
So in other words, these provisions are unenforceable. How many people would go to a bar, armed, and sip soda water? Or keep guns in their vehicles for something other than self-defense? And how would you verify it? Naturally, critics claim these exceptions are ludicrous.
Gun-control advocates say these efforts to exempt states from federal gun laws will have a limited effect because few federal laws exist anyway. Those that do exist, said Daniel Vice, senior lawyer at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, involve background checks and what he called “basic record-keeping.” But evading any federal laws, Mr. Vice added, could make it easier for criminals to get guns.

Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, who vetoed the guns-in-bars bill but was overridden, said in a statement late Friday that he would allow the exemption bill to become law without his signature. The bill “represents a fringe constitutional theory” that will be thrown out of court, Mr. Bredesen said, but letting it become law may speed that challenge and yield clarity sooner. He said that in the meantime, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would enforce federal regulations, and he predicted confusion for gun makers, dealers and importers.
And if you think this is something unique to Tennessee, think again. Georgia passed a raft of new gun laws last year. In fact, if you want a rather comprehensive list of our state's gun laws, including places you can or can't carry bean-shooters, go to the aptly named GeorgiaPacking.org.

Interestingly enough, the only place Georgia doesn't allow you to pack, licensed or not, is a nuclear power facility. Otherwise, if this website is accurate, it is lawful to conceal iron on school grounds, public parks, public transportation, restaurants which serve liquor (as long as you ain't drinkin'), and while hunting with a bow and arrow (?).

As I wrote when the Heller decision came down last summer, those states which are more pro-gun would begin re-writing laws and loosening up restrictions on where citizens can and can't carry weapons. Here in the south, which is very much of a pro-gun culture, it makes these laws, while somewhat alarming, not altogether surprising.

UPDATE: The Times this morning (6-17) has an interesting summary of the gun legislation passed, and gun lawsuits flooding the courts, since the Heller decision last summer. As predicted right here at TPE, of course.

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