Tennessee’s 300,000 handgun permit holders have seen their rights greatly expanded by a new law – one of the nation's first – that allows them to carry loaded firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, says the New York Times. Gun rights advocates applaud the new law, but many customers, waiters, and restaurateurs here are dismayed by the decision. Tennessee is one of four states, along with Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia, that recently enacted laws explicitly allowing loaded guns in bars. (Eighteen other states allow weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol.) The four new state measures come after two Supreme Court rulings that citizens have an individual right – not just in connection with a well-regulated militia – to keep a loaded handgun for home defense.
The gun lobby seeks, state by state, to expand the realm of guns in everyday life. The high court rulings, which overturned handgun bans in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, have strengthened the stance of gun rights advocates nationwide. More than 250 lawsuits now challenge various gun laws, and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called for guns to be made legal on campuses after a shooting last week at the University of Texas, Austin, arguing that armed bystanders might have stopped the gunman. Twenty other states do not address the question, appearing by default to allow those with permits to carry guns into establishments that serve alcohol, says the Legal Community Against Violence, a nonprofit group that promotes gun control and tracks state gun laws.