Rachel Withers

Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) --  Tennessee's new Guns in Bars law took effect Tuesday.  It allows those with a concealed weapons carry permit to pack heat inside bars and restaurants as long as they aren't drinking.

But bar and restaurant owners in Chattanooga tell Eyewitness News guns don't belong on the menu.

"I'm stepping up and taking a stand and saying 'I don't think this is good,'" explained Tawnya Thompson, owner of Top of the Dock.

Long before the first customer showed up Tuesday, Thompson hung signs telling customers firearms are prohibited under all circumstances at her Hixson bar.  Talking to Eyewitness News, Thompson called the new law outrageous.

"As an owner, I have a responsibility to the people that come here, and I take that really seriously," added Thompson.

Ultimately, the law gives the establishment's owner the final say.  That said, the "No Firearms Rule" must be posted for all to see.

Concealed weapons and carry permit class instructor Rodney Brown says that's like advertising you have victims.

"Anybody who wants to rob anybody coming out of this business, feel free, because anybody coming out of this business is disarmed," explained Brown.

Brown went on to say, he believes, most people don't understand the new law.  In his opinion, those who spend the time and money to obtain a permit are responsible.  Plus, if you're packing heat, the new law says you can't consume alcohol.

"If the state of Tennessee trusts someone to carry a firearm, who's a bar owner to say that he can't?" asked Brown.

Still, Thompson argues the law lets her make that decision, and she'll do everything in her power to keep guns out.

Even if you have a carry permit, if you're caught packing heat at a restaurant or bar where it's banned, that's against the law.  You can be fined up to $500.