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Guns in Licensed Establishments

The 2010 Legislative session saw passage of a revised gun bill that is designed to survive a court challenge.  The Legislature legalized bringing firearms by licensed handgun carriers into any place that sells beer or alcoholic beverages, unless the place opts out.

In a surprisingly friendly move to the alcoholic beverage industry, the legislature now allows places to opt out by posting the international circle-slash no gun sign.  Although the sign needs to be large enough to be plainly visible to patrons entering the business, the international no gun sign is considerably preferable to the alternative sign, which was the only mechanism to opt out under the 2009 gun law.  The alternative sign must contain language “substantially similar” to the following:

AS AUTHORIZED BY T.C.A. § 39-17-1359, POSSESSION OF A WEAPON ON POSTED PROPERTY OR IN A POSTED BUILDING IS PROHIBITED AND IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.

The 2009 gun law allowed licensed handgun carriers to bring firearms into restaurants, but not bars.  At the time, the liquor laws did not distinguish between restaurants and bars, and a court threw out the gun law as being unconstitutionally vague.

The new law has taken effect.  Licensed establishments that desire to opt out are advised to post the international no gun sign at every entrance.

Because the law requires the posting to be plainly visible, we suggest that establishments use signs that are at least three inches or larger.  “Plainly visible” has not been defined, but larger signs are probably better than smaller signs.
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