Hands Up, You’re In Tennessee

April 17th, 2014

As the Tennessee General Assembly closes shop this week, they’ll leave behind millions of dollars of our federal tax money and a couple hundred thousand Tennesseans without health insurance that money would pay for – but, hey, they’re just the working poor and who cares about them anyway?

They’ll also leave behind all those untested rape kits here because helping us would set a precedent across Tennessee of caring about justice for women – and we can’t have that, can we?

In their last week, the state senate concentrated on what was truly important – making sure we can wear our guns to church.

As published in The Daily News, April 18, 2014, and in The Memphis News, April 19-25, 2014

22 Open


I got an email last week from a White Station classmate.

“Aren’t you the guy who once wore a western style .22 pistol in a holster into the drug store at Poplar and Perkins? Man, were you ever ahead of your time.”

Yes, Michael, I did. It was a gorgeous nine-shot .22 long-barrel revolver in a hand-tooled, well-worn black holster, full of as much history as gun. My father wore it during his stint in Arizona in 1934 pushing cattle and shooting snakes. My brother emptied it several times into a razorback at the foot of the tree the hog had just chased him up on Brandywine Island. I wore it into Crook-Hudson Drug Store, right up to the soda fountain counter, and demanded a root beer float. Following the pharmacist’s phone call to my parents, my father used the holster’s belt to give me the strapping recognition I deserved.

I wish Dad was still here to similarly recognize every single one of the 25 Tennessee State Senators who voted last week to turn Tennessee into an openly armed camp, allowing anyone who owns a handgun to strap it on and show it off allover town whether they have a permit or not, whether or not they know the difference between a safety and Sunday.

I was barely 12 when I walked into that drug store, and an idiot. The difference between all those senators and me is that not one of them is barely 12. The state house – actually, just the machinations of one committee – stopped the senate gunslingers this time, but make no mistake, they’ll relaod next session. 

Note to my brother: Send the gun back home. It’s time to demand respect at Walgreens.

Note to the Royal Family: When you come to town for the Wilson wedding next month, be advised that the hunt in Hunt and Polo Club could commence at any time, and that Tennesseans are armed and ready for any fox that might prove threatening. The good news is that the food and service tend to be much better when the guests are strapped.

Note to Mae Beavers: (You remember Mae Beavers, don’t you? The state senator from Mt. Juliet who introduced legislation last month to make it against Tennessee law to obey federal law?) When you loaded this gun bill as sponsor, you used a Supreme Court ruling that “no state shall convert a liberty into a privilege” to justify it. Hold your powder, Mae – doesn’t that blow a whole lot of holes in that voter ID law you champion? Don’t shoot me, just asking.

Note to the NRA: Since you’re holding this state and much of the South at gunpoint and apparently own much of the legislature, I was just wondering if we’ll be able to keep the state name. Although the mean-spirited, small-minded, regressive romp we’ve been on lately makes me hardly recognize the place anymore, I’m still fond of the name. Ask the Koch brothers. They’ll tell you what to do.

Note to the entire Tennessee General Assembly: Please God, go home before anybody else gets hurt.

I’m a Memphian, and I’m not armed.


I'm a Memphian by Dan Conaway

The book is available all over town – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look.



Roby S. Williams: Great Rant. Somewhat disturbing to know who is leading TN.

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