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Some business owners upset by parking lot guns bill

11:44 PM, Feb 28, 2013   |    comments
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A bill that expands the rights of gun owners in Tennessee will likely become law.

Thursday, the State House overwhelmingly passed the so-called "guns in parking lots" bill which had already been approved by the Senate.

Governor Bill Haslam's spokesperson says he is "likely" to sign it. It will allow handgun carry permit holders to store their guns in their cars-- no matter where they are parked. That includes schools, parks, and private businesses.

"What's the motivation behind something like that is what I'd like to know," said Ray's ESG Sports Bar Marketing Director and Manager, Webb Sanderson.

Sanderson said Ray's does not allow guns inside their building. They opted for a ban when the 2010 law that allows guns inside of bars was passed. This bill does not allow for the option to ban guns from parking lots of a private business.

"I think it's ludicrous that they have the law period," he said referring to the 2010 law. "Now passing another one to allow them in parking lots?"

"I just don't think it's smart to mix alcohol and guns," Sanderson said.

Sanderson says he thinks that puts their employees in a potentially dangerous situation. When they have to throw rowdy patrons out of the bar, he's worried the alcohol could cause them to make poor decisions with their guns.

"People are usually not happy when you ask them to do something they don't want to do. And if I'm asking them to leave, I'm putting them closer to where their gun might be," he said.

Other critics say it misses the mark.

In practice, they doubt carry permit holders will risk their job by storing a weapon in their car at a workplace where guns aren't allowed. The bill may save them from criminal prosecution, but it won't save their job if they're breaking company rules.

But some business owners-- like Al Harb of Harby's Pizza and Deli-- don't think the bill goes far enough.

"I feel that it was a good move, but they do need to take it a little further," Harb said.

Harb says he and his employees already bring guns on their property.

"We do that and more. Because in this day and age you have to protect yourself," he said.

Ray's believes the property owner should have the right to make that choice.

It's up to Governor Haslam to make the final call.

Even though the governor is expected to sign it, he has criticized the bill for allowing greater access to guns on school campuses.

Knox County's Director of Schools has also been outspoken against it.


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