Monday, June 01, 2009

Don't Take Your Guns To Town

In my career as a vagabond musician, I suppose I've spent a full third of my life working in bars and restaurants. I've seen some ugly incidents and brutal violence over the years, but aside from one or two times, it never included me. When a fight broke out, the band's policy was to keep playing unless the combatants rolled onto the bandstand at which point, all bets were off. I have used my guitar or microphone stand as a weapon, but we were fortunate to have a couple of big guys in the band who were our enforcers. I've actually turned my head to witness percussionist Skip Ousley catch the fist of an enraged person in mid-swing, right before it reached my face. We performed countless times at the Enlisted Men's Club at the Millington Naval Air Base where there were 200 men and four women, and a brawl erupted every ten minutes. I've watched teeth fly and blood flow, but nothing quite compared to the beat-down of an inebriated patron I witnessed at an all-night club in Little Rock called The Apartment.

Members of the Radiants were taking our parking lot break when a drunken fool was thrown out of the front doors by the club's immense bouncers. The drunk sprang up and attacked the two men, as drunks do, causing one of the bouncers to begin smashing the idiot's head with a lead-filled police slapper while screaming, "You done fucked up now, Bobby Gene!" When the other bouncer pulled a gun and began waving it in the air, we dove for cover behind the parked cars while the drunk continued to fight on. After a dozen more hard blows to the head, the man was beaten nearly senseless. When he tried to struggle to his feet he received a parting boot kick to the ribs that thudded across the lot and dropped him on his back. Still, the bleeding man struggled into his pick-up and managed to lay rubber leaving the club. It then became my job to get back on stage and reassure the freaked-out crowd that the danger was over and play some dance music, but midway through our second song, I saw a sort of panic sweep the room. It seems Bobby Gene had returned, only this time with a shotgun, and there was some sort of stand-off outside. For an agonizing moment, the nightclubbers, as well as the band, believed we could be part of a hostage situation. The police arrested him, but it was one of the few times in a club that I have been really afraid.

The common denominator in all of these incidents was alcohol, yet the Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly passed new laws allowing handgun-carry permit holders to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants, supposedly for self-protection. So, on behalf of musicians, bartenders, managers, hosts, wait staff, cooks, cashiers, and busboys everywhere, I'd like to ask our distinguished state legislators a question. Are you people fucking crazy? Are you so deeply in the pockets of the National Rifle Association that you are willing to let someone die to keep the endorsements and contributions coming? Any fool can see that if this vote becomes law, somebody, and possibly a lot of somebodies, is going to be killed. The only people that should have guns in places that sell alcohol should be the owner and the security guard, just like at the liquor store. Anything else is inviting a disaster.

Governor Phil Bredesen has made the principled stand against this outrage by vetoing the bill, but there are powerful forces aligned against him and the General Assembly is prepared to override. The bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Curry Todd of Collierville is a former police officer and should know better, but a cursory exam of his voting record shows he wants handgun permit records to be closed to the public, he favors allowing loaded long guns in vehicles and the elimination of the thumbprint requirement for gun purchases. No wonder the NRA Political Victory Fund, which contributes to the campaigns of sympathetic legislators, gave Todd a grade of A+. The curious thing is that there was no demand for this bill. There have been no Luby's style massacres in the local cafeterias. The bill is entirely political and driven by the NRA to expand carry rights into every area of public life. A fear based campaign has already begun by the Tennessee Firearms Association and the NRA to urge their members to contact legislators to override, along with a blatant threat to the political futures of the police and law officials that stood with the Governor.

The gun-toters' argument is always the same: that carry permit-holders are law-abiding citizens that must pass a rigorous course in the use and safety of a handgun before being granted a licence to go strapped to Kroger's, and that they are our first line of defense when the armed drug gangs start to invade our Applebee's. Bullshit. In the past, someone had to show a legitimate purpose for carrying a weapon before being granted a permit. Now, anyone with a pulse and no felonies who can manage to act right for a few hours of training and keep from drooling over the paperwork has a gun in the glove compartment. Why do you suppose the number of road rage shootings has recently rocketed?

Instead of guns in bars, there should be more bars in guns. The last fatal shooting in a Memphis nightclub came from someone who was well-trained in firearm use and licensed to carry; an off-duty policeman who became enraged after a few drinks and shot two people over a parking space. Oh, I take it back. It was that hothead in Cordova, near Rep. Todd's district, who killed the father of two children in the parking lot outside a restaurant for a perceived insult toward his wife. He had a carry permit too, proving that what a handgun often does is turn a small man into a self-perceived badass. Add alcohol to that mix and what used to be a fist-fight will now become a shooting. The new law states that the gun holder is not supposed to be drinking in these "food-serving" establishments. Who's going to enforce that; the waiter or the bartender? This is one of those "contact your congressman" times for the sane people in Tennessee. For your own self-defense, find them at link, or www.tn.gov, and tell them that this gun legislation is a really bad idea. No one deserves to be shot over their creme brulee because of an NRA campaign donation.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please Sputnik... Let me be 1st! This is one of my "hot button issues"! This gun carry bullshit has gone too damn far! As a poor lone citizen said while standing up to a politcal juggernaut, " Sir, have you no decency"? I think it's okay to have a long gun, or shotgun in your home to hunt, or protect your family ' in case the Ruskies are a comin', but to allow assault weapons, concealed handguns, which incidentally have been permitted to convicted felons, and make it okay to carry LOADED weapons into our National Parks, has gone way too far. I was hoping Obama, and some legislators with concience would start putting the brake on the NRA mob frenzy, but I guess it's gonna take a few of the "important" people getting gunned down, or several more school shootings, before they say "enough"! Please make this madness stop! I've written to, and I'll keep writing to both my state and national NRA accomplices and tell them my view. I hope others do the same.....
zephyrman

gregg said...

When I used to go to the Memphis Zoo as a kid I was amazed at the wild animals that were in cages. I can remember the big cat hall. There were lions and tigers and I think even a black panther. The first time I heard a loud growl from the lion it made my hair stand on end. If someone had told me that the State Legislature of Tennessee had in its wisdom decided that when the children were brought on their elementary school trips to the Zoo that the doors would be closed behind them as they were lead into the big cat hall and then all the cage doors would be opened so that all those big cats could just sort of hang out among the children, I believe I would have passed on going to school that day. ......even if I was told that the lions and tigers had all promised not to eat any of the children and to act "right".

I wouldn't go to school that day if they let the cats out and I won't be coming back to Tennessee for the same reason.

That simple reason being that I am not stupid. But, the people who elected and supported the State Legislators who voted to allow alcohol and weapons to coexist by having given the concept the stamp of approval of the State of Tennessee, are stupid. They could be the most stupid people in the world. The MOST stupid people in the world....as ignorant as any people on the planet...as useful to society as a whole as a smallpox epidemic.

I think all the folks that voted these idiots into office should be herded into a large room with the thermostat turned up just a little too high and everybody served lots of Jack Daniels and everybody having bullbelts and 38 specials and AK-47s and maybe even a bazooka or two, and then keep them all in there for just long enough for one of them to become a little cross.

It would probably sound like the popping of at a giant pop corn festival to the people standing outside the doors as all those idiots unloaded on each other.

I don't know. The leadership of North Korea....the leadership of the Talabans....the leadership of the State Legislature of the State of Tennessee. I'm trying to see a difference. But, I can't. All of them just ignorant zealots without restraint and not wanting any put on them.

Ignorance in someone who just doesn't have the data or the intellect to understand the data or to understand the larger concepts is a problem for that person. They are usually relegated to the lower ranges of opportunities in society. Not their fault. And happiness can be found everywhere. Problem is when the ignorant are in power. Then, you get alcohol and guns, or lynchings.....etc.

Tennessee, North Korea, Talaban. Nice group. Ignorant zealots. Hallelujah.

Ya know. I'm thinking that the next thing the great State of TN should enact is a law that says you don't have to drive at the speed limit...you can yell fire in a crowded theater....you don't have to send your kids to school....you don't have to pull over if a policeman asks you to...you don't have to put up with a locked door on a store that is closed....it's perfectly understandable and no longer unlawful to hit someone in the head with a hammer if you are upset with them.

Really. What kind of people vote for this kind of stuff?

How embarrassed are the people of Tennessee who have an IQ above 100? It's those poor folks hovering at 75-80 who voted for their kin who also fit into the dull normal range that can't quite see what all the fuss is about.

Jesus, can you come down now and make a few appropriate comments? About guns and alcohol? Could you, please? Could you make an appearance in Nashville and maybe lay out a few ideas that might inform future decisions by the august body of legislators that reside there? Although don't go to a bar afterwards... some drunk might take you for a hippie and blow you to smithereens. Now, that would be a shame.

Alan said...

I have never owned or will own a gun. You have made your living off of people who drink and drive. Which is more deadly? How can you support Alcohol if you care about human life so much? Pete and Sam's Restaurant had someone come in the back door with a gun to rob the place a few weeks ago. A patron with a gun ran him off. We either live in a free society or one that controls everything. There is a cost and danger to living free. I think that to live free is worth the cost and danger.

cinque said...

Gun sales soared after the Obama election. This carry-permit craze in Memphis is fueled by one thing, fear of the black man.

Sputnik57 said...

Alan,
I was merely hired to sing and entertain. I don't drink and I don't make anyone else drink, either. Because I favor personal choice doesn't mean I "support" alcohol. I don't. But it's not illegal to sell or consume. I would have just as happily made a living in coffee shops and hash bars, but that alternative wasn't available. Pete & Sam's has security guards in the parking lot. Some dude with a little dinner wine in him might not have such a good ability to aim, although I'm happy no one hurt Mr. Sam again. Including a well-meaning-ed customer.

Father Farken said...

Sounds like it's not only the monkeys that be losing they minds! Not only the voting in Tennessee....What about the Brits! If I were Susan Boyle I would be waving my pistol like Jerry Lee & shooting up the place for she wuz robbed! What would William Wallace do? Forgive me for there is a trigger in the human heart that is more deadly than a loaded hand gun. That's why I have never packed heat or even owned a gun & datz why I surrender my life daily to the values & attitudes & precious spirit of the Prince of Peace.! Lord have mercy on us & put out the fires of rage in the human heart! Rage that would make Travis the Chimp blush!The Peace of the Lord! FFF

Anonymous said...

Yeah that sounds like a good idea, let all the assholes that hang out in bars with their guns and beer just sota shoot it out. What idiot ever thought that was any kind of idea at all. Must be the dang commies. The sons'abitches. And who wants to sleep outside anyway, but if you want to do that kind of thing you sure shouldn't have to worry about some asshole with a gun, along with worrying about the DAMN bears. Now should ya!

SIREEN said...

Is there anyone hear with the gift of interpretation because Mr. Anonymous is talking in an unknown tongue again? What do you mean sleep outside? Are you a gypsy or something? And who you calling a commie? And Mr. Randy! You are something else! Going from Gorillas to guns! Imagine what would happen if them apes got hold of all the handguns! Screw the permits! I wouldn't even allow a gorilla to have a permit to carry a fire arm of any kind...especially in Memphis!! Imagine driving back from Tunica late at night with gun toting drunks like Travis or Scatter or Chatter or even Cheetah for that matter after hitting three coconuts on the slots. I don't even want to think about it! There it is...plain and simple! Thank you Jesus! Yours truly! SIREEN

kwk said...

In the 1970s Jerry Lee was recording in Memphis and at some point Knox noticed he wasn't in the studio. He went outside and found The Killer in the parking lot next door aiming a gun at the Dry Cleaners owner who meant to have the Cadillac sitting under the "Customers Only" sign towed away. Jerry Lee was yelling that he was going to shoot the owner's fucking kneecaps off if anyone touched his Cadillac.

Knox went up behind him and slowly put his arms around him so that he couldn't raise the gun up to aim.

Can see it now, the 1970s: got my 357 and some 714's and going to the bar to find that woman what's cheatin' on me . . .

In Memory... said...

In memory of Bobby Friedman.

Gimme A Break said...

You drive me crazy. You said Curry Todd should have known better. You just said that because he didn't agree with you. Your assumption is that if he doesn't agree with you he is wrong. Got news for you dude, half of America disagrees with you. Your whined about citizens not having a good reason to carry. The crime rate in Memphis is an excellent reason for anyone.
Can't wait to get my permit. Maybe one day we will both be sitting in a McDonalds and when some wacko come in to rob the place or start killing innoocent citizens, I'll whip out my six shooter and save your liberal ass.
And as far as the bill being politically driven, get over it, that's how your side gets their shit done!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What happened to Bobby Friedman?

BILLY JOE SHAVER said...

And just what is wrong with bringing a pistol to a bar?

In Memory... said...

Bobby Friedman was a guy I grew up with in Memphis. He served as a marine in the 1970's, and then he came home and became an attorney.

In 2002 a client whom he was representing in a divorce case decided that Bobby's representation wasn't effective enough, and so he waited patiently in the multistructure parking garage where Bobby parked every morning when he came to work, and when Bobby drove up and parked his car, the gentleman shot him dead.

Most of the details have passed from the Google record. Here's the latest in the bizarre history of Bobby's murder. The man who premeditated his murder, and carried it out, and who also planned on killing his own ex-wife, as well as the judge in his divorce case, successfully argued that he was too nuts to be tried for murder-one, and got off with voluntary manslaughter.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/feb/26/killer-wants-devices-02/

Anonymous said...

This is the most ignorant thing I have read in a long time. Your arguments hold no water whatsoever. And are you suggesting that "anyone with a pulse and no felonies..." should be denied their constitutional right to keep a firearm? You have to be kidding right? But your not, you are just another sheep. Baaaa Baaaaa.

But then again if you want to place your self in a position to be a victim go ahead. This is Memphis you are writing about.. . . . not Boulder.

Get real.

Oh yeah, your pictures for your blog and the Flyer on this topic only prey on peoples fears. You are no better than the Regan era propagandorers for prohabition.