A little long, but I think this article clearly lays out where our next crop of candidates for governor stand. I wasn't surprised with the Democrats responses, but Gibbons was a bit of a surprise to me and with article, lost my vote. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/jan/10/tennessee-gubernatorial-candidates-answer-question/ 1. A Nashville judge has struck down as unconstitutionally vague the law passed by the legislature in 2009 allowing people with handgun-carry permits to take guns into places serving alcohol. The bills sponsors say they will ask the legislature to approve a new version. Do you support or oppose a bill to allow handgun-carry permit holders to take guns into places that serve alcohol? Democrats: Jim Kyle: I strongly oppose it. Even in the Wild West you had to check your firearms at the door of the saloons. In the 21st century we should have the common sense to know that guns and alcohol do not mix. Kim McMillan: I oppose allowing individuals taking guns into places that serve alcohol. Its just not a good idea to encourage taking loaded weapons into places where alcohol is served. Having a loaded gun readily accessibly to someone whose judgment could be impaired isnt safe for anyone including innocent bystanders. Guns and alcohol just dont mix. Mike McWherter: I strongly believe that guns and alcohol simply dont mix. Thats just common sense, and I think most Tennesseans would agree. I do think its important that with any new legislation there should be attempts to seek common ground in an effort to build consensus. But the reality is that there is a clear difference between a family restaurant like Applebees at 3 oclock in the afternoon and a honky-tonk at midnight. Whatever bill the legislature comes up with should do more to acknowledge those sorts of differences. Republicans: Bill Gibbons: As a district attorney, I am the only candidate for governor who, as part of my job, actually supports citizens legitimate exercise of their Second Amendment rights. On over twenty occasions in the last two years, the Shelby County DAs office has concluded that citizens were justified in using deadly force with a firearm. Most of these cases involved home break-ins. As DA in Shelby County, Ive seen far too many cases involving the deadly combination of guns and alcohol. Allowing guns in establishments that serve alcohol is simply a bad idea. Im convinced the vast majority of Tennesseans agree with me on that. If the General Assembly enacts a new version, it is important that it give (bar and restaurant) owners the freedom to opt out and still prohibit guns in their establishments. Bill Haslam: I support the legislative goal of the bill and encourage the General Assembly to approve a new version. Ron Ramsey: As the author of legislation that created state-issued handgun carry permits in Tennessee, I support allowing permit holders to take their handgun into restaurants that serve alcohol. Permit holders face a severe penalty if they consume alcohol while carrying a firearm. To obtain a permit, a citizen must be fingerprinted, pass a background check, and pass a test to measure accuracy its a strong standard. These citizens are likely to prevent crime, not commit it. Zach Wamp: This law certainly needs to be perfected, but I support Second Amendment rights that allow law-abiding citizens who have gone through the training and permitting required to legally carry handguns for personal protection to take their guns with them. Right to carry laws help make Tennessee and law-abiding Tennesseans more safe and secure, and restaurants that serve alcohol should not be exempted from the law because we should not pick or predict where law-abiding citizens may be called upon to defend themselves against violent criminals. 2. The legislature approved a law last year allowing handgun-carry permit holders to take guns into city, county and state parks but it gave city councils and county commissions authority to designate one, some or all of their parks off limits to guns. Gun advocacy groups and some legislators say they will ask the legislature to remove the authority of local governments to opt out of the law in effect, opening all local parks to guns whether local governments want that or not. First, do you support or oppose repealing the law that allows guns in state parks? And do you support or oppose removing the opt-out provision for local government? Democrats: Kyle: My son and I have had great times together hunting and those memories that will last a lifetime. I respect and believe in the Second Amendment right of the people, but I do not believe there is a place for guns in parks. I am proud of Tennessees state parks, which are consistently recognized as some of the safest in the nation. Citizens elect local governments to make decisions for their communities. To take that decision-making ability away and put it in the hands of special interests is not in the best interest of our communities or the families that live there. McMillan: While I dont believe that guns should be allowed in areas where families and children go to play, repealing the guns in parks legislation would probably not be a priority as long as the opt-out portion of the law is in place. However, I believe this legislation would work better for all interested parties if the law had an opt-in provision rather than an opt-out provision. The difference, obviously, is that local governments would retain control over their parks without having to take some affirmative action. The bottom line is that local governments should have that control and an opt-out provision is the least we must afford if this law remains in effect. McWherter: I supported the 2009 legislation as it was passed. I believe it is important for local governments to make decisions about whats best for their respective parks. After all, common sense dictates that there is a big difference between a secluded, wooded state park and a little league baseball park. I would not be in favor of removing the opt-out provision for local governments. Republicans: Gibbons: I support the legislation as it is currently written. I believe local communities should be allowed to decide whether or not to have guns in their local parks. Haslam: I support the new law allowing handgun-carry permit holders to take guns into parks and I would oppose its repeal. I also favor giving local communities as much autonomy as possible. Im proud of the fact that Knoxville is the only big city in the state where there is no criminal penalty for legal gun permit holders carrying in parks. Ramsey: I oppose the repeal of the 2009 law. I do not support an opt-out provision and believe we need as much as possible to pursue uniform statewide firearm rights protections that are easy to follow and not overly burdensome on law-abiding gun owners. Wamp: I oppose repealing the 2009 law because we should not pick and predict where law abiding citizens may be called upon to defend themselves against violent criminals. A park is just like any other public place and the same rule should apply to parks that apply elsewhere. While I would support an opt-out provision for local governments, I would not vote to opt out on this law because it keeps Tennesseans safe. But just as there is a separation of powers between the federal and state governments, there is also a separation of powers between state and local governments. If a local government wants to opt out, they should be allowed to do so. 3. The legislature last year delayed action until 2010 on a bill requiring businesses to allow employees with handgun-carry permits to take their guns onto the companys parking lot if the gun is left in the employees locked car. Gun advocacy groups support the bill. A coalition of business groups opposed the bill. Do you support or oppose the bill? Democrats: Kyle: Private property is just that, private property. Any business should be able to say they do not want guns on their property. We should not make that decision for them. McMillan: I am always in favor of allowing property owners, including business owners, to decide the best use of, and security for, their property. I trust business owners to know what is best for their business, their employees and their customers. I am in favor of businesses making decisions about whether employees should be able to enter the premises with or without guns. McWherter: Once again, I would hope that the legislature would consider a common sense approach to addressing this issue. In principle, I believe that businesses should have the right to determine whether or not to ban guns from their premises, while on balance I would hope that businesses would take into consideration whats in the best interests and convenience of their employees. Republicans: Gibbons: As part of basic property rights, businesses should retain the right to prohibit employees from bringing guns onto business property. Haslam: I am a strong supporter of both gun and property rights, and I understand the importance of carefully considering specific circumstances when these rights conflict. For many employees, particularly those who work at night or travel through high-crime areas, the ability to keep their gun in their car is important to their safety. I support allowing a legal carrier to keep a gun locked up inside his or her own car while at work. Ramsey: I support the bill. Permit-holding citizens are some of our safest, most responsible citizens and their constitutional rights should not expire at the entrance to a parking lot. Asking a citizen to give up his or her safety and constitutional rights en route from home to work is an unreasonable burden. Our state recently saw the most brutal torture-slaying in Tennessee history and it began with a carjacking. I cannot in good conscience ask law-abiding men and women to give up their right to self-defense in the workplace or anywhere else. Wamp: I support this bill. I support allowing law-abiding citizens who have gone through the training and permitting required to legally-carry handguns for personal protection to take their legal guns with them in their vehicles. We should not pick or predict when or where law-abiding citizens may be called upon to defend themselves against violent criminals. 4. The legislature also enacted the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act last year, which declares that guns made in Tennessee and sold in Tennessee are not subject to federal firearms laws and regulations. In July, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) notified all federally-licensed firearms dealers in Tennessee that federal law supercedes the new state law and all existing federal laws and regulations applying to gun sales are unchanged in Tennessee. Do you support or oppose the Firearms Freedom Act? Should the act be repealed? Democrats: Kyle: I support the Second Amendment, but I also support federal law and regulations applying to gun sales. Yes, I believe the act should be repealed. I believe law-abiding citizens have the right to own guns and to defend their families, but I think gun laws are in place to help keep those same families safe. McMillan: There is a long-standing and well-recognized series of legal cases determining when federal law supersedes state law. It isnt simply a matter of preference or politics. Unless and until federal law recognizes the states ability to regulate in this area, federal law will generally rule. Supporting, opposing or repealing the Firearms Freedom Act will not change the outcome. McWherter: I agree that federal law supercedes state law in this instance, and as such I would not support legislation that the federal government has deemed invalid. Republicans: Gibbons: This is an example of why we should be careful to examine the consequences of legislative action. Thank goodness we have tough federal laws dealing with the possession of firearms by convicted felons. Under federal law, they face tough sentences with no parole. On the other hand, state law on this subject is very weak. If the result of the act is to eliminate tough federal sentences for convicted felons caught with guns made in Tennessee, then we need to repeal it. Haslam: In general, I want to see Tennesseans setting their own rules as much as possible. The Tenth Amendment is an important and neglected part of our countrys constitution. And as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and the individuals right to bear arms, I can certainly understand the concern over whether the Administration in Washington shares our view of gun rights. Im not a lawyer, but I hope we can get legal confirmation of the constitutionality of our new law. Ramsey: I support the Firearms Freedom Act and it should not be repealed. The Act pertains to firearms and ammunition that are not involved in interstate commerce. The purpose of the FFA is to allow a state regulatory role but not a federal one a proper division consistent with the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution. Wamp: I fully support the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act. The act was passed by large margins in both the State House and State Senate, and although the ATF has said that federal law supercedes here, this is a clear case of the overreach of the federal government. I believe that the ATF has no business telling Tennessee-licensed firearm dealers that federal law supercedes our state law in this case. I am proud that Tennessee has taken a lead on this issue.