Red Lobster Restaurant
(AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
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Virginia is moving to “relax” its gun laws. And how. Forbes provides readers with a full list of the firearms-related bills working their way through Old Dominion’s legislative process, including one that would alter the state’s five-year concealed handgun permit to a lifetime achievement award. [Full list of laws after the jump.]

Needless to say, the bill getting the most media attention makes the most minor modifications to existing statutes. More specifically, SB334 allows Virginia residents with a concealed carry permit to “take hidden guns into restaurants that sell alcohol as long as they don’t drink.”

Huh? “Before I mix your watermelon julip, I gotta ask if are you carrying a concealed firearm.”

Anyway, no story on the bill is complete without State Senator Mary Margaret Whipplethe’s take on its apparent absurdity. “I’ve really never been afraid for my life in a Red Lobster,” the Arlington Democrat “quipped.” If she wasn’t before … just kidding. Still, Maggie should have Googled “armed robbery Red Lobster” before dismissing the danger.

We’re talking multiple hits (so to speak), including incidents in Modesto, California (May ’08) and Gadsen, Alabama (July ’01). Or how about this famous crime that occurred just outside a Red Lobster, courtesy The Washington Examiner?

On this day, July 1, in 1975, Emmy-winning actor Kelsey Grammer’s sister was raped and murdered by drugged-out killers in Colorado Springs, Colo. Karen Grammer, 18, was abducted from outside a Red Lobster restaurant by three men, current and former U.S. soldiers who worked at the Army base at Fort Carson. After raping her, the men blindfolded Karen, drove her to an alley and slit her throat. Kelsey Grammer, then a 20-year-old aspiring actor who went on to star as Frasier Crane in “Cheers” and “Frasier,” had to fly to Colorado to identify her body.

Whether or not you believe in restricting state-sanctioned concealed weapons, suggesting that citizens are safe in a public place simply because it’s public is nonsense. If nothing else, any establishment that holds large amounts of cash is an obvious target for armed robbery.

It’s also worth noting that a Virginia resident with a gun permit can bring his or her gun into a restaurant even if it’s NOT concealed.

It’s entirely possible that some Virginia restaurants will react to the new law by banning guns. Two weeks ago, a California food chain called The Buckhorn Grill reaffirmed its “no guns” policy after some 100 “open carry” advocates brought weapons to a rally held in the company’s Walnut Creek branch.

The Contra Costa Times offered this argument against allowing restaurant patrons to pack heat.

“How many times have you been in a restaurant when someone was holding the restaurant up?” said Griffin Dix, president of the Alameda County chapter of the Brady Campaign. “It’s much more likely that someone might make a mistake, thinking the gun is unloaded when it isn’t loaded, or start shooting and hit the wrong person. Stores should take responsibility to not allow people with guns.”

Yes, well, meanwhile, the AP informs us that the Virginia House of Reps passed laws that would:

-Repeal the prohibition on buying more than one handgun a month that was enacted in 1993 because Virginia was the No. 1 supplier of guns used in crimes in other states.

-Allow gun owners without a concealed carry permit to lock handguns in a vehicle or boat. The Senate passed a similar bill.

-Allow those with a concealed carry permit to take hidden guns into restaurants that sell alcohol as long as they don’t drink. The Senate also passed this bill.

-Shield those who shoot intruders in their homes from lawsuits.

-Allow concealed handgun permit holders to renew their permit by mail. This also passed the Senate.

-Restrict from federal regulation any gun made or sold in Virginia.

-Shield from public access information on concealed handgun permit holders.

_Require localities that hold gun buyback programs to attempt to sell or auction the guns to licensed firearms dealers before destroying them.

-Repeal the requirement that sellers of pistols and revolvers furnish the Circuit Court with the name and address of the buyer and other information, and require existing records to be destroyed.

-Prohibit any person, property owner, employer or business to block someone from locking a gun in their vehicle, and shield them from liability from anything that may happen with that firearm.

-Ban localities from being able to prohibit hunting within a half-mile of a subdivision, but allow them to prohibit hunting within a subdivision.

-Direct Virginia State Police to develop a plan to allow lifetime concealed handgun permits to state residents. Currently, permits are good for five years.

-Prohibit localities from requiring fingerprints for a concealed carry permit.

-Allow those who are denied a concealed handgun permit to have an appeals hearing. The Senate passed a similar bill.

-Allow those with concealed handgun permits to take guns into emergency shelters.

-Allow a retired law enforcement officer to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

-Allow court clerks to issue concealed handgun permits to applicants who meet all requirements without judicial review.

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  1. "Whether or not you believe in restricting state sanctioned concealed weapons, suggesting that citizens are safe in a public place simply because it’s public is nonsense."

    This is the key line in the post for me. Facts first, arguments second. Let's at least be clear that plenty of crime happens in crowded restaurants, then debate the gun laws.

    As for Virginia's proposed changes, many make a lot of state for a state that's generally favorable toward gun ownership. (For example, "-Allow those who are denied a concealed handgun permit to have an appeals hearing.)

    Others open the classic gun regulation pandora's box though. Prohibiting fingerprinting for concealed carry permits is an easily debated issue for both sides.

    Prohibiting bans on hunting within 1/2 mile of subdivisions at the very minimum sounds sketchy. It's the sort of thing we might want to judge on a case by case basis, not guarantee in 100% of situations.

    But then, politics play a big role in gun laws as they do in so many others. Virginia's governor is eager to establish himself as a loyal Republican. He just rolled back some of the state's equal rights protections for gays today. You have to figure that while he pleased the socially conservative part of his base, the Gov really pissed off the libertarians.

  2. Just about every time someone has tried to legalize non-drinking bar carry I see the antis making the same stupid argument about “Well who is going to check” or “Will waiters have to enforce the law?” All of these completely ignore the fact that it is already illegal to drink and carry, so who is enforcing the law *now*?

  3. You people are afraid to go to Red Lobster without a gun because 39 years ago someone got killed there? How do you take a crap at home? People die every day doing that.

  4. I saved a bunch of 2009/2010 “blood will run in the streets” articles from several Virginia newspapers decrying “guns in bars” and sent those articles back to the various newspapers with a suggestion that they go ahead and do a follow up story. So far all I’ve heard is crickets except for one lone Staunton News Leader writer who admitted that “so far nothing has happened” and told me the article would be “too boring to write” and would never make it into the paper.

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