Arizona Moves To Allow Concealed Guns In Bars

There was a time in the Wild West that cowboys had to check their guns before they could pull up a bar stool for a drink — rules that protected against the saloon gunfights that came to define the frontier era in places like Arizona.

But a bill moving through the Arizona Legislature has some bar owners fearful that the state is turning back the clock to the Old West. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow anyone with a concealed-weapons permit to bring a handgun into bars and restaurants serving alcohol.

The bill gives bars discretion to keep gun-toting patrons out, and anyone with a weapon would not be allowed to drink. But the bill has angered bar owners who believe booze and guns are a recipe for disaster.

"This might be one of the stupidest things that I have heard of," said Mike Nelson, who owns Pomeroy's bar in Phoenix and plans to post a sign on his front door outlawing guns in his bar as soon as possible. "Can you think of a single reason guns and alcohol should be intertwined?"

The bill is part of a nationwide push by the National Rifle Association. Georgia passed a similar law in 2008, as did Tennessee earlier this year in becoming the 40th state to allow bar or restaurant patrons to carry guns.

"These laws are common sense," said NRA spokeswoman Rachel Parsons. "Restaurants are not immune to criminal activity. Law-abiding people — regardless of whether they're in restaurants, cars or homes — they should be able to protect themselves against criminal attack."

One of the bill's sponsors, Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, said it's about time Arizona passes such a law, and that the most important thing is that people carrying guns into bars aren't allowed to drink.

"You don't want intoxicated people with weapons, and this bill continues the prohibition against drinking and carrying," said Kavanagh, a retired police officer in New York and New Jersey. "What is the problem with having a gun in a delicatessen where someone is having a beer with their pastrami two tables away?"

The law would only apply to people with concealed-weapons permits because lawmakers say that type of gun owner has to pass a background check and take an eight-hour course to get their permits, and are therefore safer. More than 127,000 Arizonans have concealed-weapons permits, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Arizonans are also allowed to openly carry guns — on a belt or holster, for example. But those people would still not be allowed in bars or restaurants serving alcohol if they're armed.

The bill has been approved by the Senate and is now before the House; Republican Gov. Jan Brewer would still have to OK it.

Marc Peagler, owner of the Silver Spur Saloon Restaurant in Cave Creek outside Phoenix, said he's in favor of the legislation and sees some marketing potential in it.

"I look at it this way — let's just say for a moment you're a crook or a thief," Peagler said. "Are you going to break into a place where you know that there might be 10 to 15 people who are armed? I wouldn't do that."

Peagler, a gun owner himself, said people with concealed-weapons permits aren't people to be concerned about.

"People who carry concealed weapons for the most part are your general law-abiding citizens, and the people who are going to break the law are going to do it no matter what laws we have out there," he said. "If somebody has been drinking and they have a weapon in the car, they're just going to go out and get it."

Frank Murray, owner of Seamus McCaffrey's Irish Pub & Restaurant in downtown Phoenix, said he opposes the law and will prohibit his customers from coming in armed.

"It's kind of like the Wild West days," he said. "We've got enough nuts out on the street walking around with guns. We don't need them in places with alcohol and families."

The Arizona Licensed Beverage Association threw its support behind the bill after some compromises were made this week. The Arizona Restaurant Association has taken a neutral stance, but in previous years came out against most bills that would have allowed guns in bars and restaurants with alcohol.

This year's bill is one of several measures loosening gun laws moving through the Arizona Legislature.

In May, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill that would permit gun owners to keep a weapon out of sight in a locked vehicle in a parking lot or garage. That would override employers that ban weapons on their property.

Last week, a Senate committee approved a bill that would allow Arizonans to carry concealed weapons without state permits, despite objections from law enforcement.

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  • by Derek Location: Greenville on Jun 30, 2009 at 05:01 PM
    sorry fellas, how can you justify guns when a child dies every other day because of shelf inflicted wounds......
  • by pete Location: real world on Jun 30, 2009 at 12:56 PM
    hey Derek the ccw carriers are not the crooks . maybe next time u are walking out of a restaurant an someone tries to harm u or ure family.u will b glad to see someone with a ccw permit an a gun to defend YOU !
  • by Dave Location: Wilson on Jun 30, 2009 at 12:51 PM
    Argument #2 from the anti-gunners courtesy of Derek. The implication that if you want to carry a gun to protect your family and yourself that you are somehow less of a man. Because Derek has no rationale argument as to why law abiding citizens should not carry a gun he resorts to insults. But what it actually shows is that Derek has nobody in his life that he cares enough to protect. I am sure that he probably has some sort of inflated opinion of himself that he is able to out run a speeding bullet and fight off several attackers all the while protecting his children OR he is in fact a criminal and wants all of his potential victims unarmed and defenseless.
  • by Derek Location: Greenville on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:55 AM
    we solve one problem at a time. if concealing your gun makes you feel better about yourself I suggest you go see a psychiatrist.....
  • by Dave Location: Wilson on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:35 AM
    Derek. Wake up man!!! There is nothing keeping people from carrying guns in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol now. They are criminals and have no concern about breaking the law. People do it and get shot by people breaking the law everyday. It happened in Greenville last night. You can not find a single case of a law abiding, concealed carry permit holder, causing any sort of "collateral damage". The only justification that the anti-gun people can attempt is to assign the acts of criminals to the law abiding. What if we did this for everything? What if it was law that nobody can drive because some people drink and drive? How about nobody can be around children because some people abuse children? Is that really your mentality? Is this truely what you believe? Because that is what you are suggesting.
  • by Derek Location: Greenville on Jun 30, 2009 at 05:54 AM
    so any bets as to how soon a follow up article will appear about someone being shot in an Arizona bar because of a dispute? To Dave and Anonymous - just keep your guns outside of the restaurants that I dine in. I don't need to be a victim (collateral damage) of your heroics if some idiot decides to rob a restaurant. What are the theives going to take? credit card receipts?
  • by Anonymous on Jun 29, 2009 at 03:12 PM
    Well spoken Dave ......Be nice if NC would allow this. I dont drink and why do I have to leave my weapon in the car if I decide to goto Lonestar, AppleBees or even Chilis to eat. I avoid these places simply because I have to leave my weapon in the car. Criminals dont care about what the law says ... they love gun-free zones because they actually are safe zones for them to operate without fear of getting hurt.
  • by Dave Location: Wilson on Jun 29, 2009 at 11:12 AM
    This would have passed in North Carolina this year as well if it had not been sent to the committee of a anti-gun Durham politician. There is NO way they can stop anyone from currently carrying a gun into a restaurant that serves alcohol or a bar. There is nothing in place that can stop someone who is drinking who is carrying a gun. There are no searches or metal detectors. So as usual it is the law abiding who suffer and are punished and would be unable to defend themselves and their families if someone decided to rob the Applebees. Your law abiding gun owners fully understand and appreciated more than anyone that guns and alcohol do not mix. As usual it is the criminals that will again be given the upperhand in North Carolina.
  • by Ed Location: Wake Co. on Jun 29, 2009 at 06:39 AM
    Arizonians have a different mind set. Thirty-five years ago while driving cross country I remember at one particular interstate intersection a huge sign, the letters must have been 12 feet high, advertising a business there. "Sportsman's Headquarters: Liquor, Beer, Guns, Ammo". They haven't changed that much in 35 years. Drinking and shooting must still be the main pastime there.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Jun 29, 2009 at 05:15 AM
    I think it's a excellent idea.Mike, the bill says that if you are carrying, then you can not drink any alcohol.there are a lot of robberies at bars. Also, suppose you like to go out and listen to music and dance, but do not drink alcohol. Is your life not just as important during this time as any other time?You may be sitting there minding you own business when some one pulls a knife or a gun of their own that was brought into the bar illegally.
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