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The lovely Mrs. Kee and I have taken to the open road for Valentine’s weekend to follow one of our favorite bands, The Turnpike Troubadours, through Arkansas. I consider this fine state to be one of the most beautiful places in these United States. And underrated. Mrs. Kee had never been and we’ve been trying for a year to attend a Troubadours show, so things worked out pretty perfectly. We watched them play at The Rev Room in Little Rock on Friday night, and I gotta tell you, what a show . . .

It was a show I enjoyed unarmed, save for my pocket knife. I had a respectable amount of alcohol in my system. As some of our Arkansas natives might know, concealed carry is verboten in establishments that serve alcohol here in The Natural State. Doubly verboten if you’ve been drinking yourself. And as any of our readers with common sense can tell you, alcohol and guns do not mix. Knowing that my piece was unwelcome, and that I’d be enjoying cheap, cold beers, my XD(M) stayed in the safe.

About halfway through the show, when it had gotten truly loud, and the Troubadours were really getting into it, they started playing “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead” with almost a punk rock level of energy. The lyrics to the chorus go something like this.

Well raise another round boys and have another glass
Be thankful for today knowing it will never last
Still lets leave the world laughing when our eulogies are read
May we all get to heaven ‘fore the devil knows we’re dead

Standing there, I could feel the sweat rolling down my back while the beer in my hand did a similar number. As I stood wedged in with hundreds of likewise drunk and sweaty twentysomethings I had one of those brilliant moments of clarity that occasionally come at the end of a long night.

And dear readers, I thought of you. The same readers who have proclaimed on many occasions that if they can’t carry their gun somewhere, they aren’t going. Which is certainly a valid opinion, and one that I can’t really argue with. We all do our own risk analysis and react accordingly. For me, I don’t see much point in sheepdogging operationally if I arrive at the Pearly Gates having only tasted room temperature tap water and saltine crackers, metaphorically speaking.

Last night’s Turnpike show was truly, wonderfully, awesome. The energy of the band was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. They played some of their oldies, some of their goodies, and some yet-to-be-released material. It was loud. Really loud. Loud enough that I chuckled about how much time and money I’d spent on silencer and ear pro, only to go to a bar one night and undo all my hard work. One of the best concerts I’ve attended in my short life.

Had I been a staunch 2A Absolutist™ last night, I would have missed out on a really great life experience. That won’t stop me from criticizing Arkansas’ silly prohibition on firearms in bars carried by those not partaking in the firewater. And I’d encourage you to do the same if you’re a resident of the state. But sometimes, you have to lay down your arms, pull on your nice boots, and enjoy the music.

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  1. Taken to extremes, I’d refuse to use either of our hospitals because they have 30-06 signs….but *someone* had to operate on my arm, deliver my kids, etc. I don’t like it but damn

  2. Just because in some situations you must be unarmed does not mean you must become a total sheeple. Kick up the situational awareness level up a few notches and possibly look for another defensive alternative. Pepper spray, tazer, and or knife if any or all items listed are allowed.

  3. Agreed. Here in Washington State, you can’t bring a firearm into any place that has a 21+ age restriction. My wife and I enjoy having a pint and listening to live music on occasion. Our firearms stay home.
    I, also, agree that Arkansas is truly a beautiful state. My father, and previous generations going back 160+ years, were born and raised there. We vacationed there this past summer. Absolutely gorgeous!

  4. Having spent too much of my twentys in places like that, and the Rev Room specifically, (from the Natural State) I actually never thought twice of carrying. It wasn’t until I had kids that defense and awareness even entered my lexicon, and they won’t be joining those type.establishments where I am.discouraged from carrying.
    As has been said above, when its time to party rev up the SA and relax.

    • I feel a very deep responsibility to my children — so deep that I will not go to a venue to drink and be disarmed. There are plenty of ways to enjoy life and have spectacular events where I can be armed, like hunting! I’ll stick to those.

      • Touche.
        Much better times spent camping and paddling the Ozarks wilderness. Where the sp101 always rides hipside.

  5. A (somewhat) dissenting opinion:

    Concealed means concealed.

    In the unlikely and unfortunate circumstance of needing a gun, I’d rather be armed than legal.

    I can have a beer and operate a vehicle. I can have a beer and exercise good judgment about self-defense.


  6. In hoplophobic MA, I can carry concealed in a bar. I can even drink. I just can’t be “under the influence” while carrying.

    • You can’t be discovered to be carrying and intoxicated at the same time. You can carry while passed out. What the penalties are would make a difference, a $10 fine and I would pay zero attention, beheading would require more thought.

      • In MA, that would be a crime. I forget the actual charge, but it’s not having your gun either locked up or under your direct control. It is not considered under your direct control if you’re asleep.

    • I was thinking the same thing Ralph. Its funny. In a lot of the pro-gun south, there are prohibitions on where you can carry guns.

      In the anti-gun north, you can pretty much carry anywhere you want, other than in a school.

      In CT you can legally carry in a college. Also, in CT, the maximum BAC to carry a loaded firearm is .1%. Which is .02% higher than it is for you to legally drive a car. So in CT. If your BAC is between .08 and .99, you can legally carry (Either openly or concealed) a loaded handgun, but you can’t drive a car.

      Funny huh?

  7. “…there was a third possibility that we hadn’t even counted upon…”

    Maybe you can have it all. (almost)

    Pro-tip: Bring the ear protection to the loud bar. You’ll thank me years from now when your ears don’t ring constantly like mine.

    Did you drive to this rocking place with the cheap cold beers? Maybe a designated driver/sheepdog would be a good idea. If the dd/s can securely store the weapon in the car while enjoying the show, you’re good to go.

    You can have a very good time while minimizing risk.

      • I’ll third it.

        First rock concert I went to was ear-ringing loud and the after effects lasted the rest of that night.

        Ever since then, I use the foam plugs. The music is much more enjoyable now.

        They also work well for open air driving.

  8. Great article. I tend to drink scotch every day, but it’s usually after 5pm, so I’m not an alcoholic.

    Anyways, our department manual says that employees shall not operate firearms while under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs. DUI is .04 % for commercial drivers and .08 % BAC for 21+ years old. So if I’m pushing the limits of that the hardware stays at home.

  9. Great article, obviously carry when you can, but don’t miss great experiences just because you can’t carry a gun.

  10. The Troubadours are just flat out fantastic.Do yourself a favor and go buy all three of there albums, right now.

    Did you hear me? GO!

  11. On my recent trip to Las Vegas, I took only a carry-on. So no gat.
    I did my usual though. After going through security, I ate a meal.
    Naturally, I asked for a steak knife to cut my burger. The waitress was kind enough to bring me one. 😉

  12. Huh???

    Arkansas is good to go for bar carry, when they repealed their permit requirement, all that went away. The old law said that a CCW license didn’t “authorize” you to carry in a bar and a zillion other places, if you did you could be charged as if you were carrying without a license.

    Now that the license requirement is gone, there is no law they can charge you with except for trespassing if the establishment prohibits weapons.

    • True story: I was once part of a multi-thousand dollar pool to drop flame retardant on the Charlie Daniels band. I regret it now, of course, I have no personal problems with Mr. Daniels or his band. At the time, it made sense.

  13. I was afforded the privilege of being stage side for one of my favorite bands’ final performance because I was willing to leave the Benchmade in the glovebox. The sort of venue I frequent has changed admission practices after December, 2004. Metal detectors are expected. TSA style restrictions are in place.

    Would I change my mind about that night if I had been told ahead of time there was an 90% chance I would have been attacked? No, because Detroit metalheads are extremely protective of their own, and that show was just too amazing. Even totally unarmed by traditional means, I would have fought back with everything I had left. Which would have been my keys, I guess, but I also would have had a hundred strong backup.

  14. Well the last concert I went to, Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails, last fall, I had my Glock with me and a pint of rum. No metal detectors, I’m packin’. Have fun indeed.

  15. yep alot of idiots out there that let their political ideology dictate every decision they make. they simply do not know how to relax, or think for that matter.

  16. “Arkansas. I consider this fine state to be one of the most beautiful places in these United States. And underrated.”

    SHHHHH!! How are we supposed to remain a “best-kept secret” if we aren’t, you know, kept secret?

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