Some notes on a recent visit to Gatlinburg, TN. Yes the crowds of "flatland tourists" were making the coffers ring in the mountains! Combining my wife's professional meeting with a short family vacation made sense this year. So clad in my favorite tourist garb of T-shirt, hiking shorts, boots and S&W in pocket I joined my wife and three little ones touring the mountain resort!
But before I continue with my little saga, let me pass on some good news. As of July 1, 2003, Tennessee now recognizes Concealed Carry Weapons Permits from any state in the Union, even with out reciprocity agreements!
Back to the Gatlinburg trip. Virtually all roads to Gatlinburg pass through National Park Lands. To comply with NP regulations, you must unload your sidearm and place it in locked box in the back of the van or lock it in the trunk of your car. When you arrive in Gatlinburg, reverse the process, reload and conceal. So far so good.
On entering the Park Vista Hotel, I noted the Bar off to the side of the lobby. Tennessee prohibits firearms possession where alcoholic beverages are served. I stayed out of the bar so hopefully, I was legal, at least there were no signs posted to the contrary. I didn't think to check the room-service menu to see if it included alcoholic beverages!
Into the week we decided to take the girls to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Before buying tickets in the hotel I made a quick phone call to Ripley's P.R. department. They confirmed there were no "entrance restrictions" at the aquarium facility. My check of Tennessee statutes did not turn up any CCWP prohibitions on taking the "Trolley" bus from the hotel. The trolley had no signs prohibiting CCWP's.
A large "No Weapons Allowed" sign confronted us at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Agravated, I told my wife to take the kids and go ahead, I would wait outside and see if I could get a refund on my admission ticket. My Wife suggested that I check to see if they had lock boxes or something. On asking I was stunned to find they had lock boxes just for concealed weapon permit holders, "just check with the security guard at the entrance."
The guard was very courteous and told me to step to the security office. I was asked to unload my handgun and place it in the padded lock-box. "Keep your ammunition and don't lose the box key or we will have to cut the box open' said the guard '..enjoy your visit to Ripley's." I was stunned, A private business actually accomodating citizen gun carriers!
While I retrieved my handgun at the conclusion of the visit, I asked how many CCWP holders they accomodated a day? The guard check the records and came up with an average of 30 or so a week. He said most permit holders probably don't ask and management didn't want to put up a sign. He also said the only reason for not letting permit holders carry was the liability question. When I got my gun back I was told not to load it until I left the building. Yeah, right! There was no way I was going to reload in public outside the building and I suppose the restroom at the Wendy's restaurant next door is used by many as a reloading site!
No wonder my wife says a concealed carry permit is too much hassle. She is not going to carry unless she can keep it on her person all the time wherever she goes. Which I suppose is the very reason all the restrictions on civilian carry are there.
If others on this sight have any "Tales of Concealled Carry Compliance" to share, I would like to read them.