By TOMMY THOMPSONDistrict Attorney 15th Judicial District
Too many times I think we in public office hear voices near us, read opinions addressed to us and act or react accordingly. But that may not always result with us making the right decisions.
I think this may be the case with the pending legislation that, if adopted into law, will make it legal for persons in Tennessee to carry weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol or restaurants with bars that serve alcohol.
While on the surface this may seem to be appropriate and consistent with the right to bear arms as expressed in the Second Amendment, please let me assure you that such legislation is flirting with a number of catastrophic and forever changing life experiences.
Permitting someone to legally bring a firearm into an establishment that sells alcohol is in my opinion the first step in flipping a switch to start the ticking of a time bomb.
Through my 30 years of experience as District Attorney General, I have learned among other valuable lessons that guns and alcohol do not mix. Good people can get in trouble with guns. An angry word is spoken. An accusation is made. There is alcohol being consumed and almost instantly hostility erupts, and if there is a gun present, it is likely going to be used.
In this situation, the result is generally that someone is going to suffer serious bodily injury. In many cases a death may occur even to innocent patrons. And almost always someone’s life is ruined because they made a bad choice. They were influenced by their consumption of alcohol and now they are facing a criminal conviction and time in prison for an act they would not have committed if they had not had a gun in their possession.
Our state does not need this law. It will only encourage more crimes being committed with guns. This is not only my opinion but also the opinion of those who deal with such matters on a daily basis, state and local law enforcement officers.
The state legislature needs to step back and think over this matter carefully. They need to listen to police and other law enforcement agencies. They need to make the right decision on this matter because it truthfully can be a life and death issue.
Please understand that I am not opposed to guns. I have always owned guns and I appreciate the right granted by the Constitution to bear arms. I do not have a permit nor do I carry a weapon. But I also understand that taking a firearm into a local restaurant where alcohol is served can endanger innocent lives. Why would anyone want to risk their family’s safety at a decent upscale restaurant that sells alcoholic beverages just because a state law would permit anyone to bring a firearm into the restaurant?
I genuinely believe our legislators should look very carefully at this proposed law and ask themselves one very important question. How is this legislation going to help make Tennessee a better or safer place to live?