Letter to the Editor: Guns in Bars: No, Not Really

Ohioans for Concealed Carry President Jeff Garvas writes about the bill being considered in Columbus

As Ohio lawmakers debate legislation that would allow licensed citizens to carry a concealed, holstered handgun into restaurants that serve alcohol, opponents of the bill continue to reject an intellectually honest discussion of the facts. They've morphed the “restaurant carry” discussion into a campaign of fear.

This legislation simply never mixes alcohol consumption and handgun possession, period, regardless of what you’ve read or been told.

Ohio’s concealed handgun licensees already can carry into nearly any burger joint. But if they try to have a hamburger and Coke at a Max & Erma’s while armed, they commit a crime. The only difference between the lawful and criminal act is the presence of a liquor license at a particular restaurant.

That's the simple problem that "restaurant carry" legislation is designed to fix.

This legislation simply was never about being able to carry a gun into a bar – it's about being able to retain your gun at a Max & Erma’s instead of leaving it in the car as an invitation to thieves and thugs.

It is already a misdemeanor to be in possession of a handgun while under the influence of alcohol. The proposed legislation INCREASES that penalty to a felony, a year or more in jail, and the loss of one's right to own a firearm ever again.  

When you see stories implying that people will start carrying guns into bars, remember: There are more than 210,000 concealed carry licensees in Ohio. You encounter them every day as they go to and from picnics, supermarkets, weddings, barbecues, liquor stores, and homes – all of which are opportunities to consume as much alcohol as they please. 

So, what keeps them from doing exactly that? The law – the same law they had to scrupulously obey in order to qualify for their concealed carry license in the first place. And the same law that will make it a felony to carry in a bar while consuming alcohol.

Fear-mongering opponents of this legislation also have scared some into thinking that the proposed law entitles citizens to carry firearms into sports stadiums. But the truth is exactly the opposite –  nothing in the bill prevents sporting franchises from continuing to prohibit firearms on their premises, as they already do today.

The Ohio FOP misleads you with “guns and alcohol don’t mix,” but when you point out all law enforcement in Ohio was given this very right to be in a restaurant, off duty, without any prohibition on consumption their current president falls back on their standard “we have more training” red herring.  They also have FOP lodges with Class D liquor permits.

Contradicting their catchphrase the FOP now implies there is a level of training that makes mixing guns and alcohol acceptable, but only if you’re a cop – don’t fall for it.

Since our legislation is strictly about not drinking any alcohol their position is akin to saying a concealed handgun licensee may walk down the bread aisle of a grocery store, but only police officers may walk down the liquor aisle.

If we're going to continue to discuss the restaurant carry bill, let's at least "keep it real." That's what honest and reasonable people deserve.

-Jeff Garvas, President, Ohioans For Concealed Carry

Editor's Note: Ohioans for Concealed Carry authored the original legislation about the issue, House Bill 203.

Jon Ridinger June 01, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Six? Out of how many CCW permit holders? Yeah, you're bound to have crazies in there. I don't think anyone is saying that all CCW permit holders are immune from going off the deep end or that the process is perfect, but connecting their status as permit holders to their mass shootings is a stretch at best. It's like saying it's not safe to fly because there were, say, 6 plane crashes in a given year and hundreds of people died in them. Never mind there are thousands of safe flights *per day*, meaning the likelihood of dying in a plane crash is not far above 0. Same with dying because of the irrational actions of a CCW permit holder (or a police officer for that matter). And the Ft. Hood thing, wow, they guy was in the military, not just some average Joe with a concealed weapon. He was likely far more trained to use firearms just from basic training than your average CCW permit holder. Bottom line is that when someone is bent to kill other people, nothing else matters. Even the best screening process isn't going to be able to detect future mental problems that could lead to that without huge protests of profiling and invasion of privacy. Please also remember that the source you cited is hardly neutral.
* June 01, 2011 at 08:10 PM
And so, to the end of history, murder shall breed murder, always in the name of right and honor and peace, until the gods are tired of blood and create a race that can understand. ~George Bernard Shaw
* June 01, 2011 at 11:48 PM
He who loves the bristle of bayonets only sees in the glitter what beforehand he feels in his heart. It is avarice and hatred; it is that quivering lip, that cold, hating eye, which built magazines and powder-houses. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
* June 01, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
* June 01, 2011 at 11:52 PM
The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety. ~Henry Louis Mencken


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