“I’m scared,” Randy Rayburn told BBC Radio today. Rayburn, who runs three upscale Nashville restaurants, has been fighting passage of a bill — that goes into effect tomorrow — that will allow Tennessee gun-owners to carry loaded weapons into bars and restaurants. Yeah, I’d be scared too.
According to today’s BBC report, 25 percent of Tennessee legislators own a gun, so the idea didn’t strike them as wacky. The state, says BBC, has 250,000 registered gun owners.
Nashville’s police chief pointed out that this allows civilians with “no training, no experience, no time for reflective thought” and, of course, the potential additive effects of alcohol on your judgment, fine motor skills and aim to combine a Glock and a Beck’s.
I’ve written a book about guns, fired a bunch of handguns for research and interviewed more than a 100 people nationwide about gun use and how it affects their lives. I understand the desire for self-protection, but especially in a major city like Nashville, in upscale restaurant or bar (or even a lousy, downscale one — hello, what are bouncers for? Or, maybe, cops?) is this necessary?
It’s one thing to want to protect yourself in an isolated area where there’s no cellphone or 311 coverage, where it can take many long minutes for police to respond to a life-threatening situation. But in a bar or restaurant, when and why would things get so out of control?
As anyone who has ever trained with a handgun knows — and I spent three full days at the Smith & Wesson Academy learning how to handle a 9 mm pistol — whatever skill you are certain you have, you have no idea what the next guy, or woman, is able to do, or wants to try.
This is a really bad idea.