Pending legislation worries restaurant, bar owners

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, June 20, 2012

By Stephanie Carroll Carson

North Carolina News Service

A fresh push to pass a bill that would allow North Carolinians with concealed-carry permits to bring handguns into the state’s restaurants and bars has some business owners and others concerned.

House Bill 111 is currently stalled in the House Finance Committee, but supporters such as Grassroots North Carolina are pressuring lawmakers, through traditional and social media, to push the bill to a vote before the end of this legislative session.

Aaron Thomas owns Nine Mile Restaurant in Asheville, and is concerned about the bill.

“Just having people come in to my restaurant with an armed weapon, so I have no idea they even have it, is a safety issue, not only for my employees, but for my customers,” he said.

Thomas says if the bill passes he would place signage in his restaurant prohibiting weapons.

Representative Mark Hilton of Catawba County is the key sponsor of the bill.

Currently in North Carolina, guns are not allowed in any establishment where alcohol is sold or consumed.

Gail Neely, Executive Director of the North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Education Fund, says that because alcohol has been proved to impair judgment, the current law should stay in place.

“Most people don’t want them where they take their families. Guns should not be in bars, they shouldn’t be in restaurants where alcohol is served,” she stated.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, since 2007 more than 400 people have been killed in non-self-defense incidents involving private citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns.

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling shows that 72 percent of North Carolinians disagree with permitting people to carry handguns in restaurants and bars.