Press Releases

Firearms, Sportsmen Community ?Backs Wamp for Guv

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; July 27, 2010:

NASHVILLE – On the heels of a major endorsement from Tennessee gun rights advocate Ronnie Barrett, CEO of Barrett Firearms, Republican Zach Wamp announced today additional support from grassroots leaders in the sportsmen and 2nd Amendment community in his bid for governor.

More than 30 hunting, fishing and firearms advocates representing Tennessee’s three grand divisions have publicly endorsed Zach’s bid for governor, highlighting his lifelong commitment to the 2nd Amendment and the state’s hunting and fishing heritage while acknowledging the need for a strong conservative governor who will actively protect the sporting rights cherished by so many Tennesseans.

“I have enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from gun owners and sportsmen throughout this campaign,” said Wamp. “We are leading in the rural areas of the state and much of that support comes from those who are familiar with my strong commitment to hunting, fishing and the 2nd Amendment. As governor, I will protect and nurture these rights from day one.”

As a member of Congress, Zach has proudly and consistently supported Tennesseans’ right to own and bear arms while protecting the important traditions of hunting and fishing. Zach opposed the United Nations’ taxation on firearms, protected Tennesseans’ rights to defend themselves and supports an amendment to the state constitution that guarantees Tennesseans’ right to hunt and fish.

“I agree wholeheartedly with what Ronnie Barrett said two weeks ago. Zach Wamp has stood strong with us to protect and defend our 2nd Amendment rights,” said David Waldrip, a longtime 2nd Amendment grassroots activist and resident of Shelby County. ??“We must make sure that our next Governor understands, supports and defends our rights under the constitution. Zach Wamp is that man, and I encourage my fellow gun owners, carry permit holders and sportsmen to follow Ronnie Barrett’s example and join me in supporting Zach Wamp for governor.”

Tennessee sportsmen supporting Zach Wamp for Governor

Gary Arnett; a resident of Lake County, owner of Gary’s Guide Services on Reelfoot Lake, lifelong sportsman and Tennessean

Mike Beauchane; a resident of Robertson County and a National Rifle Association (NRA) Member

Tom Bible; a resident of Hamilton County and a lifetime member of the NRA

Jeff Breedlove; a resident of Hamilton County, Sportsman, and avid hunter

Lewis Card ,Jr.; a resident of Hamilton County, Life Member of Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Ducks Unlimited member,  Lifetime Tennessee Hunting License, Wild Turkey Federation member,  Lifetime NRA member

Jon Clapper; resident of Wilson County, past NRA member, member of Alaskan Sport Fishing Association and lifelong hunter and angler

Jim Colley; a resident of Knox County and past chairman of the Knoxville Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Doug Cook; a resident of Hamilton County, member of Safari Club International (SCI) and QDMA

Tom Eberle; a resident of Hamilton County, and member of SCI, Ducks Unlimited,  and NRA

Jerry Floyd; a resident of Sevier County  and owner of J. Floyds Golf and Guns, a staple in the East Tennessee sporting community since 1970

Trey Haley; a resident of Williamson County, avid hunter, member of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

David Harrison; a resident of Hamilton County and member of  Ducks Unlimited, SCI, Trout Unlimited, Conservation League

Kurt Holbert; a resident of Decatur County and life long sportsman

Steve Jones; a resident of Anderson County, state record setter for black bear and elk, member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and winner of the 2008 Outdoor Life’s Adventure of the Year Photo

Tull Malone; resident of and Deputy Sheriff in Lincoln County, National Wild Turkey Federation committee member and avid hunter

Pat May; a resident of Meigs County and 3 Time Past President of the Highland Sports Club

Joe Painter; a resident of Hamilton County, Sportsman, Concealed Weapon Permit Holder

Charlie Peavyhouse; a resident of Hamilton County, he formerly served on Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Board of Commissioners.

David Perry; a resident of Blount County and former co-owner of Gunny’s Guns

Rick Pollard; a resident of Hamilton County and member of the NRA

Jubal Ragsdale; a resident of and Deputy Sheriff in Lincoln County and lifetime member of the NRA

Tony Sanders; a resident of Hamilton County, President of Chattanooga NRA Chapter, and local radio host on Tennessee outdoor living

John Shorter; a resident of Davidson County and avid fisherman

Marvin Smith; a resident of Hamilton County and a member of Boat US

Dr. Stephen Sawrie; a resident of Hamilton County and a lifetime member of the NRA

Bill Swann II; a resident of Sequatchie County, President, Chattanooga Chapter, Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, NRA member

Bill Swann III; a resident of Hamilton County, Treasurer, Chattanooga Chapter, Safari Club International (SCI),  Ducks Unlimited (DU), NRA member

G.L. Teauge; a resident of Decatur County and former TWRA Commissioner

Curry Todd; Tennessee State Representative from District 95 in Shelby County, 2nd Amendment advocate in the State House and author of recent legislation to protect gun owners’ rights.

Bob Turner; a resident of Shelby County and past member of Ducks Unlimited

Lewis Walker; a resident of Cumberland County and a lifelong sportsman. Lewis has been a longtime member of the NRA and has helped to start various National Wild Turkey Federation chapters across the Southeast.

Tom Waller; a resident of Hamilton County, Gun Owners of America Life Member, NRA Benefactor Member, Second Amendment Foundation Life Member

David Waldrip; a resident of Shelby County State wide NRA volunteer who has been involved in grassroots political efforts in support of the Second Amendment for the past ten years. The 2008, co-winner of the NRA’s Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year award.

Dexter White; a resident of Hamilton County, member of the Federation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) and QDMA

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, including his 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee, please visit the campaign online at

Press Releases

Gun Rights Advocate Backs Wamp for Governor

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; July 8, 2010:

CEO of Barrett Firearms says Wamp is strong on 2nd Amendment rights

NASHVILLE – Ronnie Barrett, well-known Tennessee gun rights advocate and the CEO of Barrett Firearms, today endorsed Zach Wamp for Governor.

Barrett started Barrett Firearms 28 years ago, and he has become a revered icon in the world of firearms manufacturing, and staunch defender of the second amendment.

“Whenever Tennessee sportsmen and gun owners needed a friend in Congress, Zach Wamp stood strong with us to protect and defend our 2nd Amendment rights, that’s why he’s always received an A rating from the National Rifle Association” said Barrett. “We need that same strong backbone and consistent support from our next Governor, and I’m convinced that Zach Wamp will be that man. I strongly encourage all Tennessee sportsmen and gun owners to support Zach Wamp for Governor.”

Headquartered in Murfreesboro, Barrett Firearms is the world leader in large-caliber rifle design and manufacturing. Their products are used by civilian sport shooters, law enforcement agencies. The United States military adopted the Barrett .50 caliber rifle as well as more than 50 American allied countries across the world and has been an important weapon for our fighting troops.

“I am honored to have Ronnie Barrett join our campaign for Governor,” said Wamp. “Ronnie and Barrett Firearms are a true Tennessee success stories and his endorsement is more proof of our campaign’s momentum. As Governor, I will continue my long, consistent record of fighting to protect the 2nd Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens and sportsmen.”

In February, Barrett was honored by NRA Publications with the Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award. Ronnie is a past recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and has been recognized by both Inc. Magazine and Business Tennessee Magazine as a top entrepreneurial company. The United States Army in 2004 named the Barrett M107 as “One of the Top 10 Greatest Inventions”. The first time in history any firearm had made the list.

Ronnie has been featured on shows like 60 Minutes, Paula Zaun, Dateline, Discovery channel, History channel and Military Channel and many others. His rifles are seen in major motion pictures as well as depicted in the top rated action video games in America.

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, including his 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee, please visit the campaign online at


Lawmakers Blast Bredesen’s Guns-in-Bars Veto

Both barrels of the General Assembly are loading up and aimed at overriding Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s veto of legislation allowing firearm permit-holders to pack heat in any Tennessee establishments that sells beer or firewater.

Under the legislation, SB 3012, any bar or restaurant could post signs banning guns. If the owners do not, permit carriers would be allowed to enter with their pieces — so long as they don’t partake in drinking alcoholic beverages.

The vote on the final 2010 version of the bill in the House was 66-31. In the Senate, it passed on a vote of 23-9.

But the prohibition alone against booze consumption while possessing a weapon isn’t good enough for the governor. In his veto message released Tuesday afternoon, Bredesen indicated he believes allowing citizens to even bring guns into an establishment that serves wine, beer or liquor violates the general rule of thumb that “guns and alcohol don’t mix.”

Bredesen, who says he is a gun owner himself, observed in his veto statement that the legislation passed by both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly this year is little different than the legislation passed in 2009. That law was later was ruled unconstitutional by a Nashville judge, who said the provisions of the measure dictating where patrons could or couldn’t legally carry were too confusing for the average citizen to understand or figure out on their own.

Bredesen said he values “the constitutional right that allows me to protect my home and family.” But the governor indicated he believes the bill violates “common-sense.”

Referring to government-imposed bans on guns in places that serve alcohol, the governor wrote, “These rules don’t diminish our collective freedom, but ensure that this fundamental right is exercised in a common-sense manner that ensures the survival of the right itself.”

Legislators of both partisan stripes however promise that it’s the governor’s veto that won’t ultimately survive.

Dickson Democrat Doug Jackson, the chief Senate sponsor of the legislation this year and last, said the governor’s veto “was expected,” and that he recognizes the issue is an emotional one.

Jackson added, though, that he hopes people who believe in the democratic process will take solace in the assurance that “supermajorities” of Tennessee’s elected representatives “have looked at this very carefully,” and determined the general public has little to fear.

“During the time that the law was in effect, I didn’t hear one complaint from restaurant owners or patrons,” Jackson said. “The concerns perpetuated by opponents of this legislation were unfounded, and they will be proven so again.”

The House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, was unavailable for comment, but in a press release issued by the House Republican Caucus he said, “This bill passed by two-thirds in both bodies, indicating that there is strong support for this measure.”

In a telephone interview with, House Republican leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol, said, “I think we will probably override it faster than a speeding bullet.”

Mumpower said he believes the vote on the override in the House will come next week. That is likely the same time the Senate will vote on the matter, since that chamber is not meeting in session this week.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey weighed in as well, saying he is “confident we will override his veto, just as we did last year.”

“The legislation simply expands the ability of law-abiding permit holders to defend themselves and others in establishments which serve alcohol,” Ramsey said of the guns-in-bars bill. “It also allows owners to ban all weapons from their establishments and prohibits permit holders from consuming alcohol. Tennessee citizens who undergo the education and training required to obtain a permit should not be forced to relinquish their right to self-defense and the defense of their loved ones.”

Liberty and Justice News

Senator Set to Reload in Guns-and-Booze Battle

The chief Senate advocate for allowing legally permitted handgun carriers to possess their firearms in certain eating establishments where alcohol is served said he’s close to unveiling “a general improvement on the law” for the coming session.

While the language is still in draft phase, the changes that Sen. Doug Jackson says he and fellow co-sponsors plan to propose for the guns-in-restaurants law will clarify some key issues of contention and address the constitutional worries a Nashville judge outlined in a ruling last month.

“If somebody is concerned about vagueness, that is going to be addressed,” Jackson, a Democrat from Dickson, said Friday morning.

In a Nov. 20 bench ruling, Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman took aim at the Tennessee Legislature’s recent firearms-law adjustment, saying it was “fraught with ambiguity.”

Before the 2009 General Assembly made it legally permissible for a non-drinking gun-permit holder to carry in certain businesses where both food and alcohol was sold,  state law unequivocally banned pistol packing anywhere beer and cocktails were served.

Bonnyman said she had specific problems with a new provision that states, “the serving of…meals shall be the principal business conducted” in order that handguns might be allowed on the property.

“The new exception of the prohibition against firearms where alcohol is served creates ambiguity where none existed before, and is vague on its face in that it fails to satisfy the constitutional standards of fair warning and fair enforcement,” said the judge.

Furthermore, she added, police officers “are no better suited to make the difficult judgment call as to whether the serving of meals constitutes the principle business of an establishment, such that the presence of a handgun on the premises would be legal or illegal.”

Beyond clearing up the uncertainties Bonnyman outlined, Jackson said the bill-language he plans to introduce will also clarify what sort of signage a restaurant-owner should post to avoid any legal confusion as to whether guns are permitted in the place of business.

Every establishment-owner has the “preeminent right” to ban guns if he or she chooses, and violators are subject to $500 fines, said Jackson.

“We’re going to address that issue head on,” said Jackson. “We want the property owners to know what is an effective posting. And by the same token, we also don’t want the permit holders to be guessing what is, or is not, an effective posting.”

In his view, Jackson said drawing distinctions between primarily eating establishments versus 21-and-over bars and taverns is mostly just an effort “to create standards of behavior for people who legally carry guns.”

“What we’re doing is regulating law abiding citizens,” he said. “As to whether those regulations are necessary, there is a debate, but I would suggest that if you look around the country at all the states and all the body of law, what you are going to find is that law-abiding citizens simply are not the problem.”

He predicted the Legislature “will act quickly and decisively” in 2010 to pass revisions to the guns-in-restaurants law.

“I suspect there will be a lot of support, just like there was last year,” Jackson said. “We’ll address the judge’s ruling, and then we’ll move on to bigger issues.”

Opponents of the law – which was approved over the veto of Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen – promise another tough fight ahead and say a recent Middle Tennessee State University poll showing 60 percent of state residents opposes allowing guns in restaurants, and 80 percent oppose guns in bars, indicates the general public does not support the new law.

Press Releases

NRA: Restaurant Gun-Carry Ruling A Setback for Tennessee

This press release was issued by the National Rifle Association on Nov. 23, 2009:

Fairfax, Va. – Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman of the Chancery Court for Davidson County, Tennessee ruled last week that Tennessee’s restaurant carry law is unconstitutionally vague because of a perceived ambiguity over the state’s definition of restaurants. This law gave right-to-carry permit holders the chance to defend themselves from criminal attack while in a restaurant.

“This ruling is a setback for Tennessee’s law-abiding concealed carry permit holders,” said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist. “We strongly urge Attorney General Robert Cooper to defend the Tennessee statute and appeal this unwise ruling.”

HB 962, Tennessee’s Restaurant Carry legislation, passed both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, but Governor Phil Bredesen vetoed the bill on May 28, disappointing more than 200,000 right-to-carry permit holders in the state. While an override of the veto only needed a simple majority vote to pass, it cleared both chambers with overwhelming, bi-partisan support. This law went into effect in July of this year after the Tennessee House and Senate successfully overrode Gov. Bredesen’s veto of HB 962. Tennessee joined 35 other states which recognize the right to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol when it enacted this legislation into law.

This law is crucial because crimes do occur in restaurants. On April 2, 2009, Benjamin Felix Goeser was gunned down at Jonny’s Sports Bar on Nolensville Road in Nashville. His wife, Nicole Goeser, has a right-to-carry permit, but she had to keep her gun locked in the car because of Tennessee law. Mrs. Goeser actively lobbied for the passage of this measure.

“Right-to-carry permit holders in Tennessee need to be aware that the chancery court’s regrettable and incorrect decision effectively suspends the law the legislature enacted and that they should not carry in restaurants until this litigation is resolved on appeal,” concluded Cox. “The NRA will continue to fight on behalf of our members, permit holders and victims of crime until this reasonable self-defense measure is restored as Tennessee law.”

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.

Environment and Natural Resources Liberty and Justice News

‘Guns-in-Bars’ Law Shot Down – For Now

A judge in Nashville on Friday triggered renewed debate over a controversial issue that fired up a range of competing interests during the 2009 Tennessee legislative session.

Davidson County Trial Court Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman declared on Friday that a recent change in law to allow non-drinking patrons to carry firearms in bars is so “fraught with ambiguity” as to be essentially indecipherable, and therefore unconstitutional.

Her legal finding likely reloads the topic to become a political flashpoint again in 2010.

Opponents of the law hailed Bonnyman’s ruling as “common sense.” Supporters promised to “reword the law” to ensure that it passes future legal muster.

Enacted over the veto of Gov. Phil Bredesen, the law allows permit-holding firearm carriers to posses their weapons in alcohol-serving eating establishments that meet certain caveats. In particular, the law declares that an establishment must derive more than 50 percent of its income from food, rather than the sale of booze, for customers to legally pack heat.

However, to the judge’s way of looking at the suit, which was filed by a group of restaurant and bar owners, calculating an establishment’s food-versus-liquor sales breakdown isn’t something citizens could reasonably be expected to determine for themselves.