Society

SC House Panel Hopes to Allow Guns in Restaurants, Bars

| by Dabney Bailey
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Booze and guns – why not? A South Carolina House Panel is supporting a bill that would allow South Carolina concealed carry permit holders to take guns into restaurants and bars. The bill originally prohibited gun owners from carrying guns into establishments after midnight if the establishment served alcohol, but the panel voted to remove that restriction.

The panel argued that the after-midnight restriction set up arbitrary rules that would be difficult to enforce. They also feared that it would lead to normally law-abiding citizens unwittingly breaking the law.

The panel was moved by statements from gun rights advocates, who argued that prohibiting guns after midnight was illogical because that’s when crimes are more likely to happen. Anthony Roulette, the state liaison for the National Rifle Association, argued that gun owners do not “suddenly at midnight [turn] irresponsible and lawless.”

This bill would greatly expand the liberties of gun owners, but it wouldn’t step on the toes of restaurant owners. Business owners would still be able to post signs prohibiting guns on the premises and they would be able to ask gun-toting patrons to leave.

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Gun control advocates aren’t thrilled about the new bill. Sylvie Dessau of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense said, “What happens if another patron gets drunk and the gun-carrying person feels threatened? That, I think, is an issue.” She added that restaurant owners wrote to her with concerns about drunken gun-toting diners.

It is a legitimate concern. Responsible gun owners will readily admit that alcohol and firearms are generally a dangerous combination. Drunken bar fights could quickly escalate and an inebriated person can’t be trusted to drive, let alone operate a deadly firearm.

Dessau and other gun control proponents will have their chance to rally against the bill. Now that the bill has the House Panel’s seal of approval, it must endure the full House Judiciary Committee, a House floor for debate, and then another round of voting. Concerns about drunken gun owners might kill this bill long before it reaches the governor’s desk.

Source: The State