As a result of the horrific shooting of children in Newtown, Connecticut in December, 2012, our SC legislators got right on it with a slew of bills to -- you got it -- allow more guns into more potentially dangerous places, like for example, bars. We had to laugh when Rep. Mike Pitts sponsored the bill in 2013, and then watched with much less glee when the bill passed in the House.
Even I did a double take when I read his claim that "44 states are having no issues with people that do carry in" (which is shorthand for those of us who don't speak gun for bringing your gun into an establishment).
After having listened to quite a bit of NRA newspeak over the years, I decided to investigate this statement. In fact, not having "issues" means states with no laws addressing bringing guns into bars. Many of which don't allow guns to get as far as the parking lot, making carrying into a bar irrelevant. They don't have laws because up to now it's been OBVIOUS that guns and bars are a bad idea. So. Let's go ahead and NOT assume that 44 states are inviting gun-toting folks into bars.
The rationalizations surrounding this bill are cretinous. A gun is more dangerous locked in a car. Well, I guess that assumes that some idiot is going to leave the weapon on the seat in full view, maybe with the window open a generous crack, or fully expects that the car is going to get broken into on a regular basis.
What I have to say to that is, you maybe should leave the damned gun at home. Or if you don't have the common sense to hide the gun and lock the vehicle, you maybe shouldn't own a gun.
Here's another gem. The gun-slinging citizenry would feel safer bringing that gun into that restaurant. I don't know about you, but I haven't had the occasion -- yet -- to have to face down someone with a gun in a restaurant. But I have to assume that a diner paranoid enough to need to carry a gun into a restaurant is NOT a person I'd want to imagine enjoying a meal in the same establishment as I, much less enjoy a meal with.
Now, our less smart brother to our west, Georgia, has already passed such a law. Over there in Georgia, Jerry Henry of Georgia Carry ("The No-Compromise Voice for Gun Owners") contends,
“We have had zero incidents of law abiding citizens being in any ‘O.K. Corral shootouts,’ as predicted by the gun prohibitionists.”
If by zero, Mr. Henry means several, I guess that would be accurate. Any idiot, including Mr. Henry, could google Georgia bar shootings and come up with data contrary to his claim. Okay, to be fair, they might not have taken place in the bar. So these jackasses went into a bar, did some drinking, had a fight, and then had the good sense to go out in the parking lot to shoot it out. And fortunately did not have to walk all the way to their cars to get their guns.
Which brings me to another point, besides the ones on our legislators pointy heads. Not only do bartenders and restaurateurs now have the responsibility to card drinkers and monitor their behavior, requiring them to stop serving people who are drunk, often being blamed for allowing drunks to get in a car and drive. Now they bear the responsibility for posting when weapons are not allowed AND making sure that if allowed, those carrying don't drink. Except that some of our clever legislators who can't seem to draw a line without wanting to cross it, think it's just uncivil to not allow someone to walk into a bar or restaurant with a gun and not have one itty bitty drink.
And how about this: the assumption through all this is that someone who is carrying is going to be trustworthy enough not to drink with his buddies, and if he's allowed to drink, will know when to stop, and if he doesn't stop when he should, will have the good judgment to not get in a fight, and if he gets in a fight, will not pull out his gun. Until he gets to the parking lot.
To sum it up: if I don't want to be drinking with Yosemite Sam, I should not frequent bars or restaurants that do not have signs posted prohibiting weapons. If I do see a sign, I have to assume that the barkeep is going to be making sure nobody's tempted to carry. And when people carry and drink, I will have to take it as a given that they will show good judgment and self restraint.
We all know good judgment and self restraint are characteristic of drinkers, and I'm just going to assume even more so if they feel the need to carry a weapon in when they stop for a burger and beer.
You know what the whole entire problem is with stupid laws like this? The problem is that our legislators bear absolutely no responsibility for the consequences. They cannot be sued, they won't lose their jobs, they don't even have to question their faulty judgment. And with groups like A.L.E.C. and the NRA keeping their purses fat, they are quite likely to get re-elected.
If this is important to you, and if you walk the streets and shop and eat in the establishments here in South Carolina and are a rational person, it probably is, talk back.
Our legislators do their best to ignore opposing (less remunerative) opinions, but they have email addresses that you can access at scstatehouse.gov. Even better, they have Facebook pages. Leave a public comment, or send a private message, or both. Send out a tweet. Write a letter to the editor, which I believe gets you the best bang for your buck.
And after all, aren't we really talking about the best bang for the buck?