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Va. General Assembly approves bill allowing handguns in bars

Gun-rights supporters had reason to cheer Tuesday after the Virginia General Assembly gave final approval to a bill allowing concealed weapons permit holders to enter restaurants that serve alcohol. Two other bills friendly to gun owners also won final approval.

On a day when the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing perhaps the most widely followed Second Amendment case in years, Virginia's House of Delegates gave final passage to a Senate bill that opens bars to people licensed to carry handguns.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who is expected to sign it.

The measure would not prevent restaurateurs or bar owners from forbidding guns on their premises, its backers said.

The bill, SB334, sponsored by Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., passed the House on Tuesday by a vote of 72 to 27. The Senate gave its approval 22 to 18 on Feb. 16.

Hanger's bill differed from a bill that passed only the House by adding criminal penalties for drinking alcohol in a bar while also carrying a handgun. Under the version that passed both chambers, drinking in a bar while carrying a weapon would be a misdemeanor.

A House version --HB505, submitted by Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) -- is expected to die with other House-approved gun-rights bills in a new Senate subcommittee packed with senators who are supportive of gun-control measures. But Gilbert said he was pleased that the measure passed, whomever the sponsor.

"We have been waiting a long time for a governor who would be more agreeable to advancing the rights of law-abiding gun owners," Gilbert said Tuesday.

The General Assembly also gave final approval to two other gun-rights bills.

Holders of concealed weapons permits could renew their licenses by mail under a bill sponsored by Sen. Ralph K. Smith (R-Roanoke). Smith's bill, SB3, passed the House on Tuesday by 81 to 18. It passed the Senate on Feb. 16 by a vote of 29 to 11.

The other bill, SB408, approved Tuesday, would allow any person who is qualified to possess a handgun to store the weapon, loaded or not, in a locked container or compartment in a boat or motor vehicle. SB408, sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester), passed the House Tuesday by a vote of 74 to 25. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 24 to 16 on Feb. 16.

-- Fredrick Kunkle

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  March 2, 2010; 5:06 PM ET
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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Why does McDonnell's name have a (D) after it?

Posted by: reiflame1 | March 2, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The restaurant and bar owners should now be required BY LAW to install metal detectors and body scanning devices at the entrances to make sure that anyone without or with a permit should bring it onto an eating/drinking establishment premises. The carriers of the weapons should also have to display the permit at all times like a ID badge at a trade show of sorts. This way the owner of the bar or restaurant can either (1) ban that person from entry, or (2)require that the person check their firearm in a locker that should be rented by the half-hour at a substantial cost ($5-15). This would discourage crack pots from bringing guns into - lets say family friendly establishments such as Chuck-E-Cheese, Applebee's, Olive Garden, etc.

Posted by: rkayblock1 | March 2, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I am looking forward, really, really looking forward, to reading the first Post story about a bunch of redneck fumbducks who get a little out of control, and leave some dive looking like a scene out of a Tarantino movie. Enjoy your toys, boys. Please!!!!

Posted by: daweeni | March 2, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

daweeni: 32 other states don't have restaurant bans. They haven't had a problem with "redneck fumbducks" (oh, you're just SO clever) shooting up restaurants. So why do you expect it to happen in Virginia?

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | March 2, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

If WaPo would do any research, they'd discover that Virginians CAN already carry loaded handguns into places that serve alcohol. The only requirement is that they are carried OPENLY. Moreover, you CAN consume alcohol as long as you are not intoxicated AND you DO NOT need a permit. Any Virginia 21 years or older can do this.

That means there have been handguns carried into restaurants and bars for years without any of the wild west nonsense that anti-civil-rights people would suggest. The only change is allowing people with permits to conceal carry. It's actually a small change overall, just more convenient for gun owners and eliminating an infringement upon the right to bear arms.

Posted by: chirol | March 2, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Well, I hope that the VA restaurant owners get a lot of money from these gun toting idiots. The rest of us will find another state to eat in, because I won't eat in a VA restaurant that allows gun toting fools. This is about voting with your wallet.

Posted by: kinsman_bob | March 2, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

its a great idea sick stuff but great idea highly supported as a marine myself but only if this law passes in california itll be great

Posted by: glendalesmafioz | March 2, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I think I live in one of the most backwards states in the U.S. Loosening up gun laws that are already the loosest in the land? Why? What benefit does "anyone" get from carrying a concealed weapon into a bar? That's a real good mix, alcohol and firearms! It has nothing to do with rights and everything to do with insecurity and fear. Why have any gun regulation? This is the state that couldn't "require" background checks and a "cooling off period" (waiting period before possessing a purchased gun) after the most lethal school shooting in our nations history! Backward f'ing state!

Posted by: popeyeswabby | March 2, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

If Chirol's analysis is correct, then I guess that I can take comfort in knowing that the legislation is just a "small change," one that will make it more convenient for gun owners to make the rest of us a little less comfortable when we dine out. In a way, this feels like retaliation toward those of us who fought so hard to get the smoking ban passed last year! Since restaurants will have the discretion to ban weapons, I hope that the ones that cater to families will choose to do so and make the notice VERY conspicuous. I can envision an iPhone app that lists gun-free bars and restaurants by city/county/region/zip code and look forward to adding it to my iPhone once it's ready. I enjoy going to a firing range -- even playing Laser Tag with my boys -- but carrying a concealed weapon into Chuck E. Cheese is a bit much, don't you think?

Posted by: HigherEducationAdvocate | March 2, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Gun owners frequently have a more than one drink at home, and more than one gun there too. But the law restricts concealed carryers from drinking while carrying.

It makes good sense to streamline the gun laws and allow people to live their lives normally.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 2, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

The State's new slogan has officially been changed. It now reads,

Virginia is for Paranoid Gun Lovers

Posted by: kamaro1 | March 2, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I've got a stupid question. The first sentence of the article reads:

"Gun-rights supporters had reason to cheer Tuesday after the Virginia General Assembly gave final approval to a bill allowing concealed weapons permit holders to enter restaurants that serve alcohol."

Does this mean that if you had a permit to carry concealed, you were not allowed to enter a restaurant that sereved alcohol, even if you didn't own/carry any guns?

I mean, if you have a gun and you left it home under lock and key, would you still be barred from eating dinner at Friday's? That's what the sentence means.



Posted by: jayrockers | March 2, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is, have fun with that. I'll be in the next state over, spending my money there, where I don't have to worry about getting filled with holes by someone who's had a few.

I know that saying everyone south of the river is a moron is a generalization, so I won't say it. But you have to admit that there do seem to a lot of them down there.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | March 2, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Although I can not imagine why any gun owner would ever find the need to bring a gun into a restaurant, I think it certainly makes sense that if they are a permit holder they should be able to legally hide it out of plain sight, so that people like me don't stare at them wondering how on Earth they felt scared enough of the world around us to need a gun at a restaurant. Maybe if I was travelling to Afghanistan with CIA tattooed on my forehead I would want a gun, but chances are I'd be dead by the time I could even react.

Posted by: rocotten | March 2, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

While I'm a believer in the right to bear arms for self-defense and home protection, the last place hand-guns should be allowed is in an establishment that serves liquor, including restaurants. People will refuse to take their families out for fear that some mentally unstable psychotic on anti-depressants or bipolar meds could whack out and draw their weapon to take revenge upon innocent patrons.

Posted by: poescrow | March 3, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Excellent, well thought-out law. Personally, I cannot wait until this freedom is extended everywhere - from college classrooms to airline cabins to prison cells.

Posted by: upthepike125 | March 3, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Anti gun people are such alarmist. I'll bet nobody will be any less safe than they are now but so many people think the sky is falling. You would be surprised how many people are around you in day to day life and carry a concealed weapon.

As a concealed weapon permit holder I can tell you that they specifically ask the mental background of the applicant whether they have/are being treated for disorders or have been in a mental hospital, or a rehabilitation facility for drugs alcohol etc. or on prescription drugs for mental problems. That was a couple pages on my application.

The crazy people in general are not going to take the time to file an application and get a permit from the police so that they will be legal gun toters when they enter a bar or eating establishment to kill you. But if that pyschotic does appear at your local restaraunt one day, maybe there will be responsible gun owner there to take him out.

I myself don't carry my weapon everywhere I go. I evauluate the situation and if I have to be somewhere unfamiliar or at what may be a less safe time, I do carry. But I will not feel any less safe with this very small change in the law knowing that others may be carrying.

Posted by: JustMeSterling | March 3, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

The state's motto is "sig sempter tyrannis." The state's tourism slogan is "Virginia is for Lovers." There is a difference between a state motto and a tourism slogan.

Gun owners frequently have more than one drink at home, and more than one gun there too. Guns and alcohol are no danger if you're sane.

I'm convinced that opposition to guns is a self-correcting feature. No one who becomes as hysterical about guns as anti-gun people should own a gun.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 3, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

"I am looking forward, really, really looking forward, to reading the first Post story about a bunch of redneck fumbducks who get a little out of control, and leave some dive looking like a scene out of a Tarantino movie. Enjoy your toys, boys. Please!!!!"


Why wait for stories about VA rednecks? You can read plenty of articles about DC homeboys who carry their ILLEGAL guns to go-go and hip-hop clubs all the time.

Posted by: Hk45 | March 3, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

As someone else said, I will vote my dis-pleasure with this ruling ,(VA Republican Senate) with my wallet.

Posted by: ggant | March 3, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

They made being drunk and having a permitted gun a criminal offense. Whoopee. Who wants to step up and be the first to disarm some idiot gun toting drunk? Restaurants won't do this. They don't watch out for unarmed drunks, much less those carrying heat.

Posted by: janeway1 | March 3, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"Excellent, well thought-out law. Personally, I cannot wait until this freedom is extended everywhere - from college classrooms to airline cabins to prison cells."

Airline cabins and prison cells? Are you insane?

Posted by: neurobadger | March 3, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Either way, this is a bloody bad idea.

I'm counting down the days until some person with a gun underestimates their ability to hold their liquor, gets rip-roaring drunk, and, perhaps ticked off by some other patron, shoots up the place.

As much as I have a tenuous support for the second amendment, I also have a brain and fairly good knowledge of precisely what alcohol does to people (I'm a neuroscience student) and think legalizing guns in bars is really dumb.

Posted by: neurobadger | March 3, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I'll just plan to call ahead to establishments, and see if they have a no-gun policy. If they don't, as ggant suggests, I will vote with my wallet, and let them know why.

Posted by: Stevis16 | March 3, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Great. Guns and alcohol. Put in metal detectors. At least with maryjane people are mellow.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 3, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Freedom is not for the fearful. I do not apologize for the right "to keep and bear arms." Fortunately the founding father's were more wise than most of us.Anyone who shoots at a gun club, is an NRA member or from the VCDL knows that guns and alcohol don't the body.
The bias is clear from the Post, "Handguns in bars." Isn't it the Restaurant Handgun Ban?

Posted by: greggamma | March 3, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Don't get the right to bear arms and a civil right confused. It is insulting. Also again if anyone looks at the constitution, the right to bear arms is confined to those within an organized militia. I am not against guns, I just think that pro gun people should be a little more intellegent with there arguments. Do not keep going back to one vague sentence in short document over 200 years old.

Posted by: Baltimore137 | March 3, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The comments here are so funny. You are going to "vote with your wallet" and eat in Maryland? You must not realize a couple of things:

1) It is ALREADY legal to openly carry a firearm in a restaurant that serves alcohol in Virginia. All this does is make it OK to conceal it.
2) It is already legal for a Maryland concealed carry permit holder to carry concealed in Maryland where alcohol is served.

So good luck voting with your wallet in eating in Maryland. I don't see what that will accomplish since the same thing is ALREADY legal there.

Posted by: psujb97 | March 3, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Cigarettes no, guns yes.

Nice (not).

Posted by: reston3 | March 3, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, I don't understand why the hysterical "chuck'e'cheesers" anti's can't get it through their thick skull: the law does not allow permit holders to consume ANY alcohol. And as someone pointed out, open-carry is legal in the state anyway. Even then, you still aren't allowed to consume alcohol or you're considered under the influence. The only people that are going to get drunk and shoot up a place are idiots that were going to do it anyway, regardless of any law. Plaxico Burress is an example.

What about the shootouts in the street between people arguing over parking spaces? OH, WE'RE INUNDATED BY CCW VIOLENCE!! Oh wait, that was more baseless hysterical crying.

You guys accuse "gun-nuts" of wild paranoia...Take a look in the mirror for that diagnosis.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | March 3, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that none of you anti-gunners can answer my simple question: if the other 32 states that DON'T have a restaurant ban (DID YOU GET THAT? DON'T) haven't had a problem, why do you insist that Virginia will? And can you manage an answer that has some whiff of FACT in it, not just ignorant jokes about "rednecks" and emotional wailing and the like?

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | March 3, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I have a CCW permit. I carry everywhere I can legally. I know a lot of others that do the same. We all stay updated on the laws on governing what and where we can and can't conceal carry, not for our amusement but to follow those laws. People that have CCW permits are documented law biding people. What sense does it make to limit the rights to people that are documented as following the law? If we citizens are in good standing then we should be put in good faith. Not everyone goes to a restaurant to drink and presently anyone that can legally own a fire arm can legally open carry into bars and restaurants where permitted by the establishment. So if I really want to I can by law take my fire arm into an establishment as long as it is visible and permitted by the establishment. This change in the law allows us to keep our fire arm concealed as to not draw unwanted attention. It does not change the fact that fire arms are or are not allowed by law just in how they are displayed. By the way… for you paranoid types out there. I live in Northern VA and ride-share (slug) to work every day to Arlington, while carrying concealed in my own car.

Posted by: NoVASlugger | March 3, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

If it is illegal for gun carriers to drink alcohol in a bar or restaurant, who is held responsible/liable when that misdemeanor occurs? Will bar and restaurant owners now have to ask every patron if they are carrying a deadly weapon?
If gun owners consider it their "right" to carry their weapons in places frequented by families, when are the rest of us going to ask them to accept "responsibility" for all the deaths and injuries that their "rights" cost us?

Posted by: julie1403 | March 3, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Must be a lot of imbreading in VA! Are they stupid! Why on earth would they allow such a law to be passed! Why don't we just go back to the wild west! Drunks and Guns oh yeah a good combination! We have enough illegal guns out there so now lets just make it easier! Way to go Virginia! Can't wait to see how you react when one of your family members gets shot by a drunk!

Posted by: MyOpion1 | March 3, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't worry about people bringing guns into restaurants that serve alcohol; I worry more about these same people - or any other person - getting behind the wheel of their car while drunk. The issue is alcohol, not guns.

Posted by: CubsFan | March 3, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

julie1403... read the law. It is the gun owner at fault and is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Heres a link for your information

MyOpion1 - That is exactly that. Your opinion. Can you tell me exactly how many illegal guns are out there? Please back up your statements if you want to be taken seriously.

Posted by: NoVASlugger | March 3, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

CubsFan - Great point. I challange anyone to find statistics that prove there are more gun related accidents/arrests in VA than DUI/DWI accidents/arrests. I'll put my money on there being more DUI/DWI accidents/arrests.

Posted by: NoVASlugger | March 3, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Chirol was absolutely correct, this law only c hanged the carry law by allowing for concealed weapons in these establishments. What it does do is allow the people who are allowed to carry concealed weapons the legal right to not have to leave them in there car for dinner. I for one am thankful for this, some nutjob carries in a weapon like the msdonalds shooting then I will be thankful for the redneck sat next to me who has something to fight back with. Virginias past laws did not keep someone from going to dinner with a weapon, its been called the "virginia tuck" for as long as I can remember, a person carrying concealed merely had to tuck his or her shirt in and expose there weapon to be able to carry in a restaurant, so for those of you thinking this is a huge chage making it unsafe to go eat you are so wrong, it barely changed anything,,a criminal or nutjob would have theres concealed anyway and you would not know it. So whats the answer? Lets take away guns from decent people and only let the criminals carry theres?gimme a break

Posted by: kbryon | March 3, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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