Once I received my Concealed Handgun License, I felt as if I could take care of most situations life might throw at me. Except one. As a working musician, I often find myself in situations that are just ripe for trouble, and there’s not a thing I can do about it, namely, being around the back alley of a downtown bar, late at night/early in the morning, loading pricey musical gear without many people around. Can you say “easy target”? Yep. And the irony is, the one place I need to cary the most is the one place I can’t. In Texas (and for that matter, in most states with a conceal carry law on the books) one big cut-out is that you can’t carry in bars and places that get more than 50% of their income from the sale of adult beverages. Even if you don’t drink. Ohio is on the list of states that’s trying to change that. But they’ve hit a snag…
You see, the law says you can’t drink and carry. And I’m down with that. In a major way. Doesn’t really matter to me – I don’t drink much at all. I can take it or leave it (mostly leave it) so it’s not as if I feel like I’m missing out. And I never drink when I play music. So changing the law to allow for CHL holders to carry in bars would make perfect sense for someone like me, who is, by necessity, in situations where I may be putting myself in harm’s way.
Too, I’ve always worried about ANY ‘gun-free’ zone, because the very people I’d worry about shooting up the joint are the same kind of people who would ignore that kind of ban anyway. And it’s not like they wand you down or make you walk through a metal detector as you enter a club. That law would only kick in if you get caught.
Of course, I’m a law-abiding citizen. I play by the rules. And if the rules say “don’t carry in bars,” then I don’t carry in bars. But I would, if it were legal.
In December, Ohio state Representative Danny Bubp had a massive amount of support for such legislation in the state House – enough so he could muster the votes to get the bill out of committee against the wishes of the Democrat majority. Sadly, the bill failed because the then-Speaker of the House (a Democrat) sent the members home before a vote could be taken.
Fast-forward to today, and and the GOP enjoys a 59-40 majority in the Buckeye State, along with a new, Republican Governor. And the Senate has already passed a similar bill in their chamber. So what’s the holdup?
Apparently, it’s the Ohio Restaurant Association. While supporters of the bill see it as a way to increase safety, restauranteurs and bar owners evidently see it as a way to increase the likelihood of violence in their establishments.
So at this moment, the House is at an impasse. Bubp is still trying, and hopes to get the bill through after the Spring recess. Will common sense prevail? Too soon to tell. But I can tell you this. I wish they’d get that law on the books where I live.
If forced to choose between “Go in unarmed and hope the bad guys obey the law (and nobody mugs me outside the bar in the alley)” and “Go in carrying concealed, secure in the knowledge that the odds are against some bad guy pulling a gun on me,” I’ll take option #2 every day of the week.