Kent bar owners say anyone should know guns and alcohol don't mix.
Tell that to members of the Ohio General Assembly.
Both the Ohio House and Senate have passed similar bills that would allow permit-holding gun owners to carry a concealed weapon into places that serve alcohol. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has previously expressed support for such a measure but hasn't directly indicated he would sign a final bill into law.
Many expect Ohio legislators will come together on a final measure allowing guns in bars and liquor establishments and pass that onto the governor for his approval.
"I think it’s ridiculous," Vince Fazio, owner of on Franklin Avenue, said. "First of all, I don’t think you need to carry a gun when you’re in public. But if the law states you can carry a concealed weapon, I’m not going to debate that. However, in the bars you’re selling a mind-altering substance. You should only operate a gun while you have a clear and level head."
The measure being discussed by legislators would make it illegal for someone to drink while carrying a firearm in a liquor establishment. And bar owners would retain their private property rights and be allowed to ban firearms from their business.
But for Charlie Thomas, owner of , those two provisions would be tough for bar owners to police.
"What if we don’t know if they have a gun, and they drink anyways?" Thomas said. “It sure puts a liability on us that we didn’t have before."
"We don’t pat people down or anything," Mike Beder, owner of , said. "It's hard to tell, someone could still bring one in and we wouldn’t know. And frankly, so if people who are carrying these weapons aren’t allowed to consume alcohol, then they’re just taking up space in here. Because I sell alcohol."
Proponents of the idea say it's more a matter of convenience — they don't want to have to remove their weapon to have dinner out with their family or attend a professional sporting event.
Jeff Garvas, of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, told the Plain Dealer Ohio laws don't differentiate between bars, restaurants, stadiums and other places where alcohol is served.
"We didn't go out and write a bill to say we need a bill that allows us to have a gun in bars," Garvas told the Plain Dealer. "The whole purpose is to go to a restaurant which just happens to serve alcohol and not have to leave my gun in the car."
Supporters point to the limitation that people who carry a gun into a bar can't drink as enough protection for bar owners.
Robert Morson, owner of , somewhat agrees.
"Even though they’re allowed to carry it in doesn’t mean that we have to allow it," Morson said. "We can refuse, like I have no smoking on my deck.
"You’re allowed to smoke on our deck technically, but I won’t allow it," Morson said. "And that’s my right. And I think the gun would be the same way. I think I have the right as the owner of this building and establishment to say I don’t want anybody to carry a gun inside our building. And of course it’s their right not to come in."
Morson, like Beder, Thomas and Fazio, said they would post signs prohibiting people to carry a gun into their establishment if the measure is signed into law.
Still, Louis DelBene, co-owner of , thinks guns and alcohol are a bad combination.
"Common sense need not be debated," he said.