Our view

State shouldn’t allow firearms in bars

January 23, 2014 

  • In summary

    Allowing patrons to carry guns into bars and restaurants poses an unnecessary threat to public safety.

A “responsible gun owner” can turn into an armed menace in a hurry now that South Carolina residents are allowed to legally carry guns into bars and restaurants any time of the day or night.

That essentially is what a bill, passed this week by both houses of the Legislature, would permit. Under the measure, any resident licensed to carry a concealed weapon can take a firearm into businesses that serve alcohol, regardless of the time.

Armed customers are not permitted to drink alcohol under the bill. And businesses that don’t want guns on the premises could post signs prohibiting them.

However, enforcement of the no-drinking rule is likely to be next to impossible. How will those serving drinks know whether a customer is carrying a gun or not? And will those servers be held responsible if they unwittingly sell drinks to a gun-toting customer?

The primary rationale for this bill appears to be that it allows people licensed to carry concealed weapons to carry them while eating dinner in a restaurant, instead of having to leave their guns in a vehicle, where it is less secure. So, for the convenience of the small minority of people with concealed-carry licenses, lawmakers are willing to endanger everyone else.

Even if someone carrying a gun abstains from alcohol, he or she still poses a hazard to the public. If the gun accidentally fires, other customers could be wounded or killed.

An argument between two gun-carrying patrons could escalate into a gunfight. No telling how many people might be injured or killed when that happens – as it is sure to.

Recently, a young father was shot to death in a movie theater by a former police officer sitting near him who complained about the man’s texting. The shooter said he feared for his life when the man threw popcorn at him.

With gun-carrying patrons in bars and restaurants, people could be killed because of an overdone steak or slow service.

The bill is being called a victory for 2nd Amendment advocates. Ironically, the proposal gained momentum last year during the national debate about gun rights sparked by mass shootings around the nation.

It’s hard to see how allowing people to take guns into bars and other establishments where alcohol is sold will do anything to lower the number of gun deaths each year.

Guns and alcohol don’t mix. Despite the prohibition in the bill against gun carriers drinking, bringing firearms into establishments where alcohol is sold invites trouble.

State lawmakers need to find ways to limit potential gun hazards, not increase them while pandering to those who would eliminate any and all gun regulations. This bill is both dangerous and unnecessary.

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