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I don’t get out much. Part of that is habit. Part comes from being self-employed. Part comes from being a single dad. And part is frankly that the only time I hang around bars is when I’m booked there with my band. (I’m a militant non-smoker, and I don’t drink much, either.) But there’s a couple of things I can say about bars – most of them are in less-than-wonderful parts of town, and most of their parking lots look to my Condition Yellow-trained eyes as wonderful locations for a mugging. Now I’ve never been in a bar fight. Never been mugged outside a bar (or in an alley behind a bar, which is usually where I have to load in/load out if I’m playing). But as they say in the financial services industry, “past performance does not insure future results.”

I’m planning on a night out, tonight. A friend is playing at (of all places) a biker bar. (Not the kind of place you’d expect to find a female singer-songwriter, but still…) And it’s seriously a place where I’d feel a LOT more comfortable with a gun. But I shall be going sans-semi-auto tonight, because of what I consider to be a serious deficiency in the conceal carry statues.

Everyone knows guns n’ alcohol don’t mix, right? I mean, neither does drinking and driving. But just if you’re going to get to a bar, SOMEbody’s gotta drive (full disclosure: I’m usually the “designated driver” in my crowd when I DO go out), you’d assume that responsible non-drinkers might be able to carry in a bar. And you’d be wrong.

The irony of the conceal carry laws across the nation, is that they assume that carrying in an establishment that sells liquor is a hugely bad idea. So they’ve added a codicil (love that word) to prohibit concealed carry inside an establishment that earns 51% or better of it’s daily coin from the sale of adult beverages. Sounds reasonable…on the surface. I mean, why encourage people to mix guns with alcohol.

Of course, another part of the law states that ANY use of a firearm when consuming alcohol is just cause for imprisonment, fines, and the loss of your cherished concealed carry permit. So in a way, a ban on guns in bars is overkill. Unfortunately, it also sets up a situation where every bar (and some restaurants) become “Gun Free Zones” (read: “Target-Rich Environments”).

Think of it this way: let’s say a bad guy or two wanna get hammered. They are carrying guns – and don’t bother with the niceties of conceal carry permits. (They are bad guys – the rules are only for good guys, remember?) They get wasted and belligerent. And they know that the law-abiding people in the bar are NOT carrying firearms. So, unless the barkeep has a shotgun behind the counter, they should expect zero resistance from anybody, should they decide to shoot up the joint.

In the Great State of Texas, we call this law the thirty-ought-six law. Not because of the classic rifle caliber, but because it’s section 30.6 in the law. (Ironies abound. You have but to look for them.) It provides for the wording of signs that indicate who can – and who can’t – carry.

I’d like to see the law amended so that no matter where you are, if you’re sober and have a CHL, you can carry. (In point of fact, this is now the law in Arizona.) Since I’m willing to sick with soft drinks, I’d like to be able to carry in bars where I perform. Not because I’m worried about some pinhead jackin’ the place or deciding to go all Medieval on the place, but because I don’t wanna get mugged, taking my gear out to my car, after the gig. But I can’t legally do that, the way the laws are now written.

So on Day 5 of my concealed carry project, I’m not going to be carrying. Which is sad – and a little scary.

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  1. AFAIK most states where carry is subject to a permit (i.e. every state except AK, VT and now AZ) has such a law. Some of them ban carry in any establishment that serves alcohol in any form (IOW if Denny's sells beer and wine, as some of them do, you can't carry there.) In many cases these laws were put on the books as a result of lobbying by anti-gun groups trying to water down the CCW law. They probably figured (correctly, I might add) that the more restrictions they put on CCW the fewer the people who would bother to go through the process of obtaining a permit.

    FWIW Colorado is one of the few permit states where you can legally carry in a bar.

  2. I read where Arizona recently changed their law to allow non-drinkers the right to conceal carry in AZ bars. If they drink, though, they are in violation of the law. Makes sense to me.

  3. Virginia amended the CCW and open carry statutes as of July 1, 2010 to allow carry in an unposted bar or restaurant as long as you do not consume alcohol.

    • Prior to the change you could open carry, but the rule applied to any place that served alcohol on premises. I think that Virginia does not allow true bars anyway, they all have to have the majority of revenue from food.

  4. Well, I don't drink and drive, so I'm certainly not going to drink and carry. It's unlawful in Massachusetts to discharge a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (without expressing any legal limit), but there doesn't seem to be a prohibition on bar carry. It seems almost axiomatic that states with the most restrictive gun license laws, like MA, have fewer location restrictions.

  5. Sounds like you don’t live n the right state. From what I remember, Oregon is another state that’s cool with Tavern Carry, as long as you stay sober.

  6. The trusty 642 is in my gig bag while we're playing, and in my pocket when I'm loading out. I don't drink at gigs, and the operative word is "concealed". Bad law be damned.

  7. I lump this under the general rule of avoiding trouble spots. From my experience, almost all bars are places where a person is more likely to encounter a dangerous/potentially dangerous situation, and I think the delta between bars and other social gathering places is substantial enough that I never go to them. It’s kind of like not going to parts of town you know are bad if you don’t have to go there. Where I live there are plenty of coffee houses, restaurants, etc., so I have plenty of alternatives. In other locales, the local tavern may be the only choice. And for those of you (like the writer) whose vocation involves working in those places, it is an occupational hazard that you should legally be able to mitigate through concealed carry.

  8. Brad, even though you said certain places put you on yellow alert, your imaginary descriptions of what might happen in the parking lot and in the alley really sound like paranoia. Wouldn't you agree there's a line where reasonable preparedness ends and obsessive unnecessary worry begins? I imagine you and I just disagree on where that line is.

    About that picture, isn't that the same one that FatWhiteMan made fun of on my blog? He accused Jadegold of not knowing the difference between a real gun and a fake or a BB gun or something. What do you think about that one, real or fake?

    I love what Mike said. Few pro-gun guys are so honest. "Bad law be damned. "

    • Mike, I think there's a fine line between "prudence" and "paranoia," a line which is only, really defined in hindsight. I come from a long line of people with 20-20 hindsight. Not so much on precognition, though. Went to a bar last night, to hear a friend play, and sit in on guitar. Stowed my gun in the trunk of my Jeep for the durration. I never felt as if bad guys were in the shadows, waiting to get me – I never do. But I'm always casually scanning wherever I am, to anticipate what might happen next. In my experience, trouble never comes from where you expect. Is that paranoid? I don't think so. Paranoid (to me) would be keeping my hand on the grip of the gun, and flashing it (or worse) the minute I'm so much as startled.

      As far as the pic goes, I suspect it was a real gun (and a real bottle of hootch) that was Photoshopped into a kind of neutral blandness.

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