I wanted to speak to a perception upon which anti-gun legislators are quick to emote regarding Virginia Senate Bill 476, which would repeal the prohibition against licensed CHP holders carrying concealed in restaurants that serve alcohol.
The tired, old “guns and alcohol don’t mix” argument doesn’t fly because the legislation specifically provides for criminal penalties for those who imbibe while carrying.
Because that argument is a non-starter, the primary rationale that opponents use is that the staff of the restaurant has no way of knowing whether customers are armed or not and, so it is solely up to the gun owner to refrain from drinking. The current requirement to carry openly allows the restaurateurs to know you are armed and to refrain from serving you alcohol.
That was the rationale behind the amendment requiring CHP holders to announce to the staff they are armed when carrying concealed at a restaurant.
I may have a hard time clearly explaining my objection to this point because it seems so “common sense” to me that I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t grasp it immediately:
The restaurant staff NEVER has any way of knowing whether their patrons are armed or not unless the patron tells them. It is ALREADY solely up to the gun owner to follow the law.
If someone is of a mind to break the law by drinking while armed…what would prevent them from breaking the law by not telling anyone they are armed?
NO laws “prevent” the commission of crimes. They only provide for consequences should someone choose to break them and is caught. It makes absolutely no sense to imagine that someone who would break one law with no regard to the consequences, would obey a different one.
How would a law requiring CHP holders to notify the restaurant staff that they are armed be enforced? How does this requirement rely any less upon the CHP holder obeying it than one simply saying that they are forbidden to drink? Are restaurants going to get lists of all CHP holders so that they can vet their customers?
No. What this is really about is harassing law abiding gun owners. By requiring CHP holders to notify the staff…a law which only law abiding gun owners will feel compelled to obey…the lawmakers are granting the restaurateurs the opportunity to bar entry to CHP holders without having to do anything that might upset their customers…like post a sign.
It is nothing more than singling out CHP holders for ridicule, embarrassment and harassment. How would you feel if you tried to go with some friends to a nice restaurant, did nothing wrong and followed the law to a “t”, but were singled out and told you were not welcome there?
Restaurateurs have every right to bar firearms from their establishments, but if they choose to do so, it should be right up front and out in the open…i.e. posted prominently. That way gun owners know up front that they aren’t welcome there and don’t have to subject themselves to a demeaning policy and potentially embarrassing confrontation to find out.