Pissing Away Political Capital?

So, this guns in bars thing continues to fascinate me not because I am worried about people carrying guns, but because we live in a very gun-friendly state and this is very gun-friendly legislation and while it seems like those two things should add up to happy circumstances, they have not.

How do you impliment popular legislation in a friendly state and fuck it up so bad that we’re now at the point where some folks are hanging signs to keep guns out, Tootsie’s is wanding people at the door, and restaurant and bar owners across the state are worried about liability issues.

Note what Tom Lee is saying here–

Restaurant owners who post signs banning guns from their businesses fear they may open themselves up to higher insurance premiums and greater liability — whether or not an incident occurs in their eateries.

That’s because posting the signs creates a reasonable expectation among patrons that the restaurateur has swept the premises of guns and has assumed responsibility, says Tom Lee, a partner at Nashville law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis PLLC.

“It’s worse if you post (a sign),” Lee says. “It will be very easy for a lawyer to argue in court that the restaurant undertook the duty to make the restaurant safe when they put the sign up.”

I think that’s a little bit of bullshit. But it illustrates the Catch-22 that legislators have put bar owners in. When it was illegal to carry in a restaurant that served alcohol, if you were carrying and were served alcohol, that was completely on you as the law breaker.

But now that it is possible for people who carry to be in a bar/restaurant, no matter what there are legal repercussions for the owner. Just like, if you get drunk in a bar and drive home and mow 23 churchgoers over, the place who served you has, in some cases, some responsibility for having served you, if you are carrying a concealed weapon and you have a drink at an establishment and then shoot someone, it’s not that hard for me to imagine that you might have some liability for not doing enough to prevent someone who has a weapon from drinking.

Now, I’m no lawyer, so if I can sit down and think of why I might want a sign in my bar–because I don’t want there to be any chance that I’m legally responsible for ensuring that concealed-carriers don’t drink–and if I can foresee what Lee is saying here, that posting such a sign might also somehow make you legally responsible for ensuring that, it must be pretty damn foreseeable.

So, is it any wonder that bar/restaurant owners are a little “WTF?!” about the whole thing?

(But I’ll tell you what. Now would be the time to go into bar/restaurant insuring. Shoot.)

So, I’m a little convinced that somehow the Legislature has managed to fuck up what was kind of rightly seen as a no-brainer bill by not involving their bar/restaurant constituents in the decision and making sure their concerns were voiced and met.

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23 thoughts on “Pissing Away Political Capital?

  1. Pingback: They’ll See The Sign And It’ll Open Up Their Eyes To A Lawsuit : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  2. I wouldn’t worry.

    It’s still illegal for anyone carrying a weapon to actually drink in a bar or restaurant. If someone has a drink and then uses their weapon, they’ve broken the law. Hard to see how the restaurant owner will be liable for that.

    Those who are posting signs might as well put up a sign that says, “No law abiding citizen allowed to have a firearm on these premises.” And that could subject you to a bit of liability.

    Same thing for parks. If cities are going to ban firearms in parks, then they have undertaken to protect the citizens who visit there. If someone does break the law and bring a firearm to a park, anyone injured may well be able to sue the city for failing to protect them.

    Neither the legislature nor the bar-owners, nor cities or counties can prevent firearms in restaurants/bars or parks. They can only deter law-abiding citizens from carrying. The bad guys have always had weapons in bars and parks. They won’t stop just because somebody puts up a sign.

  3. I don’t actually think comparing it to guns in parks is useful, because most people think that your local government is responsible for protecting you.

    I don’t think that a private business has any obligation to protect you, except insomuch as they are protecting themselves from litigation.

    So, it’s now up to bar owners to decide where the path of least litigation lies. Is it in putting up signs that might seem as if they have taken on the obligation of keeping guns out? Or is it in not putting up signs and hoping that gun owners will be honest?

    I mean, let’s be clear. Either way, this law seems to put some obligation on the bar owners now to make sure that people with guns are not served.

  4. It’s also illegal to drink to excess and then drive. People do it all the time and that’s on them. However, if they commit vehicular homicide, the bar that served them to excess is usually party to a civil suit as well. Bar owners are responsible if some idiot rushes the stage and gets burned by a flashpot, if somebody breaks an ankle in a mosh pit, if some drunk slips on her own vomit and conks her head on the bathroom sink, etc. In short, they are liable for a lot of what most people would call stupidity or mischance. It’s not going to be magically different because the stupidity or mischance involves the beloved gun.

    Since the point of a concealed carry to conceal the weapon from detection prior to use, I’m guessing that a bar owner who needed to demonstrate due diligence in maintaining patron safety will either have to post “No Guns” and wand to enforce that or they’ll have to frisk/wand and visibly mark armed patrons (legally carrying or not) for no service as they go (revealing who is packing and who is not). It’s one of those laws that in theory was meant to grant more liberty but in practice appears to promote greater infringement on liberty and privacy.

  5. Damn it, Bridgett, I owe you a beer (which you may not have while you have your gun on you) because that’s exactly what I was trying to put into words and say in a succinct manner that made sense.

    Yes, this does exactly seem like it was supposed to grant more liberty, but is going to end up with us all being wanded by strangers at Applebee’s.

  6. Yes, this does exactly seem like it was supposed to grant more liberty, but is going to end up with us all being wanded by strangers at Applebee’s.

    i wouldn’t worry. here in MI, we’ve got laws reasonably similar to what y’all have just passed, and i’ve yet to be wanded at any eatery i’ve gone into. restaurateurs don’t seem to be groaning under the liability, so i guess it’ll work out for you, too.

    then again, i’ve also never seen a “no guns allowed” sign in this state, either.

  7. It’s still illegal for anyone carrying a weapon to actually drink in a bar or restaurant.

    That’s funny. Prior to last week, it was illegal to carry a gun into a bar, but the pro-guns-in-everywhere coalition insisted that some people did it anyway.

    Which shows you the level of respect accorded to the law by some.

    Which is also why I can hardly fault the Tootsie’s management for investing in metal detecting wands.

  8. Prior to last week, it was illegal to carry a gun into a bar, but the pro-guns-in-everywhere coalition insisted that some people did it anyway.

    and i’m sure you were shocked, shocked, to find GAMBLING in Rick’s Casino, too.

    law-abiding people weren’t carrying guns anywhere the law forbade them to. they still won’t. but those folks aren’t the ones you need to worry about, by definition.

  9. Pingback: Liability concerns over ‘guns in bars’ law « Nashville Is Talking

  10. The bad guys have always had weapons in bars and parks.

    How do you define “bad guys,” and how do you know they’ve always had weapons in bars and parks?

  11. How do you define “bad guys,” and how do you know they’ve always had weapons in bars and parks?

    let’s tentatively describe a person who’s willing to (1) break the law (2) concerning the use and carry of deadly weapons to be a “bad guy”. i bet you can figure out the rest of the formal logic involved without my help.

  12. Yes, but see, I’m not that interested in a “who is evil/who is not” discussion. People who carry, even people who carry where it is forbidden are not necessarily bad people.

    If I were being stalked, I would carry wherever I was and if it was a legal problem, the hassle of potentially being arrested would not outweigh the value in knowing I was protected.

    But I’ve been stalked, so I might be biased.

    What I’m interested in is not whether people who carry are fuck-ups, but how a piece of legislation that should be popular gets so weirdly mishandled and what that suggests about how our state runs.

  13. A friend of mine just e-mailed me to note:

    “I think the bar owners and park regulatory people there should put up signs that say, ‘NO GUNS ALLOWED. IF WE SEE YOU WITH ONE, WE WILL BLOW YOUR ASS BACK OUT INTO THE STREET WITH *OUR* GUNS.’”

    Of course I said, “And you’re writing this from a table at Miss Kitty’s?”

    And he said, “Yes. And Festus is with me. Matthew’s upstairs, though.”

    (I know, I’m not adding anything cogent to this discussion. If I tried, I would be shot myself. So I give you a lighter moment. You’re welcome.)

  14. B, I’m not sure why you expected the legislation to be so popular. Most people, including firm proponents of the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, don’t want to be around guns most of the time; this legislation means that more guns will be around in more places; that will make most people uncomfortable. So (leaving aside the question of rights, constitutions, and guesses about what criminals are or aren’t carrying) the law was bound to be unpopular.

  15. NM, I think you are spot on. Maybe it’s there, but I don’t see a whole lot of NRA outreach to the ‘inner cities.’ NRA activism against municipal gun bans perhaps, but not so far as directly encouraging certain people (ahem) to arm themselves and join up. That’s why I asked rob to be more clear about who was or was not a “bad guy.” His vague characterization (and Nomen’s fuzzy ‘clarification’) reminded me of something I watched once:

  16. hey now, Sam — were you somehow assuming that i was speaking for (or ever had the slightest desire to speak for) the NRA, of all things? leave me the effing bleep out of that, i don’t even like those guys.

  17. Pingback: SayUncle » Stop! You’re too successful

  18. Of course, legislators did not check with bar and restaurant owners before ramming this legislation down everyone’s throats. They checked with the NRA. End of discussion.

    After all, they know who pays their campaign bills.

  19. ‘legislators did not check with bar and restaurant owners before ramming this legislation down everyone’s throats. They checked with the NRA.’

    Yup. The National Restaurant Association, TN division. It made it pretty clear it did not support the bill. And still lost. Power to the people and not those greedy corporations and their lobbyists.

    t’hee.

  20. The backlash already occurred at the ballot box last year. If it seems like a glut of these bills has passed, then its because they backed up over years and years since the former speaker refused to allow a vote because he knew they would pass. His procedural trickery frustrated enough voters finally to marginalize him via the ballot box, even if it was a near thing.

    Face it, people in this state take gun rights seriously and don’t much care for stuffed-shirts telling them they can’t be trusted or responsible with this law. Why would anyone feel the need to run their bills past the restauranteurs or this state? Who they are to dictate lawful carry policy when their own business can opt out?

  21. Yup. The National Restaurant Association, TN division. It made it pretty clear it did not support the bill. And still lost. Power to the people and not those greedy corporations and their lobbyists.

    Well, guess you’re gonna have to get used to eating in.

  22. Then again, it will give some a chance to work down their Y2K reserves of dry beans & smoked hams. Synergy!

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