Staff Editorial: How long before Sandbar becomes a saloon?

It may sound like the Wild Wild West, but it’s the latest trend today.

Believe it or not, four states now have laws that allow weapon permit holders to carry loaded guns in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Tennessee joined Arizona, Georgia and Virginia in recently giving the thumbs up to allowing loaded guns in bars and restaurants. The new legislation in these four states came about after two landmark Supreme Court rulings which decided that U.S. citizens have an individual right to keep a charged handgun for protection.

This new law, however, does not allow gun permit holders to consume alcohol while they possess a weapon. According to The New York Times, Tennessee State Representative Curry Todd, who initiated this bill, stated, “The police aren’t going to be able to protect you. They’re going to be checking out the crime scene after you and your family’s been shot or injured or assaulted or raped.”

Allowing people to carry deadly weapons in restaurants and bars which serve alcohol is not the solution to tackling Tennessee’s personal safety issue. In fact, a man in Lynchburg, Va. with a weapon permit accidentally shot himself in the leg while drinking beer at a restaurant. By endorsing this bill, we are allowing incidents similar to this to take place.

We must understand that this new risky legislation does not promise safety; it compromises it. Carrying a firearm in public puts citizens at risk. Furthermore, consuming alcohol while carrying a gun will only increase that risk, whether it’s unintentional or intentional.

In Tennessee, if a permit holder gets caught drinking while carrying a gun, he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor and can potentially spend up to a year in jail. This makes us wonder though, how will restaurant and bar staff members know who has a gun in their pocket and who doesn’t? People can easily walk into a bar or restaurant with a dangerous weapon and no one would know. Clearly, the law itself creates a heavy burden for the city.

These four states are not the only ones that have jumped on the “gun and alcohol” bandwagon. Not only have these rulings repealed handgun bans in cities such as D.C. and Chicago, but it has also expanded and strengthened the rights of gun advocates across the nation.

How long till this law is enacted in Florida? Imagine people holding guns at a bar in Grove. It’s a scary thought. We need to stand up and say no to the catastrophic idea of mixing alcohol and guns.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.