Alexa

Arizona moves to allow guns in bars

Arizona moves to allow guns in bars

There was a time in the Wild West that cowboys had to check their guns before they could pull up a bar stool for a drink - rules that protected against the saloon gunfights that came to define the frontier era in places like Arizona.
But a bill moving through the Arizona Legislature has some bar owners fearful that the state is turning back the clock to the Old West. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow anyone with a concealed-weapons permit to bring a handgun into bars and restaurants serving alcohol.
The bill gives bars discretion to keep gun-toting patrons out, and anyone with a weapon would not be allowed to drink. But the bill has angered bar owners who believe booze and guns are a recipe for disaster.
"This might be one of the stupidest things that I have heard of," said Mike Nelson, who owns Pomeroy's bar in Phoenix and plans to post a sign on his front door outlawing guns in his bar as soon as possible. "Can you think of a single reason guns and alcohol should be intertwined?"
The bill is part of a push across America by the National Rifle Association. Georgia passed a similar law in 2008, as did Tennessee earlier this year in becoming the 40th state to allow bar or restaurant patrons to carry guns.
"These laws are common sense," said NRA spokeswoman Rachel Parsons. "Restaurants are not immune to criminal activity. Law-abiding people - regardless of whether they're in restaurants, cars or homes - they should be able to protect themselves against criminal attack."
One of the bill's sponsors, Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, said it's about time Arizona passes such a law, and that the most important thing is that people carrying guns into bars aren't allowed to drink.
"You don't want intoxicated people with weapons, and this bill continues the prohibition against drinking and carrying," said Kavanagh, a retired police officer in New York and New Jersey. "What is the problem with having a gun in a delicatessen where someone is having a beer with their pastrami two tables away?"
The law would only apply to people with concealed-weapons permits because lawmakers say that type of gun owner has to pass a background check and take an eight-hour course to get their permits, and are therefore safer. More than 127,000 Arizonans have concealed-weapons permits, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Arizonans are also allowed to openly carry guns - on a belt or holster, for example. But those people would still not be allowed in bars or restaurants serving alcohol if they're armed.
The bill has been approved by the Senate and is now before the House; Republican Gov. Jan Brewer would still have to OK it.