Politics is dominated by sound bites meant to generate emotion, not rational discourse. One of the most dominant sound bites in recent North Carolina politics is that the law now allows people to carry "guns in bars." Upon hearing those three words, "guns in bars," people recoil in horror. The very idea that North Carolina is full of bars where people are packing heat is enough to make tourists avoid the state altogether. However, when one compares the old gun law with the new one, things make perfect sense.
On October 1st, North Carolina's absolute ban on handguns in all restaurants serving alcohol expired. That evening, I just happened to go into such a restaurant with a friend and fellow concealed weapons permit holder. Like me, she is an opponent of a statewide government-imposed ban. Our experience in the restaurant/bar that evening may sound amusing to most readers. But it actually sheds light on why the expired gun law left a lot to be desired.
As we were walking into the somewhat upscale restaurant/bar a group of guys sat on the patio and gawked at my friend as we passed. That's understandable. She is an actress and a model and she's at least three standard deviations above the mean of physical attractiveness. That kind of thing happens to her all the time. It was no big deal. In fact, I thought it was amusing. If she were more than a friend then I might not have been so amused. But that's beside the point. (Keep reading. There's a free quiz and a chance for a government handout at the end of the column).
After we sat at the bar and talked for a couple of hours, a group of older men came in and ordered drinks - obviously not their first drinks of the evening. One of the older gentlemen (and I use the term loosely) was noticeably staring from across the bar. Of course, he was staring at my actress friend, not me. Nothing eventful happened and we finished our drinks and left. For the record, hers was an ice water and mine was a Ranger IPA.
I’ll never know what it's like to be an attractive single woman who travels and eats out a lot. But that brings me to the issue. My actress friend who is a concealed permit holder (and who never drinks alcohol) isn't always accompanied by someone. She travels a lot and she often goes into restaurants alone. That means she's often in the position of walking across a parking lot to her car alone. Should she have to leave her weapon in her car simply because she went into an establishment where others might be drinking? Or should the laws be modified to let businesses decide instead of government deciding for them? These are the issues. To address them, it helps to consider three general categories of establishments that serve liquor.