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Concealed handguns could be illegal in Virginia restaurants, clubs serving alcohol

There could be some changes in Virginia when it comes to carrying concealed handguns into any establishment that serves alcohol.

Virginia State Sen. Saddam Salim, D-37, introduced a bill that could make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to carry a concealed handgun into a restaurant or club with a license to sell and serve alcohol.

“When you’re sitting with your family at a restaurant or when you’re a restaurant owner, you also have the right to be in a safe place. Someone else’s rights should not infringe on someone else’s. That’s the real concern here along with the fact that if you as a restaurant owner want to provide a family-friendly environment,” said Salim.

Active and qualified retired law-enforcement officers would be exempt from the proposed bill.

[Heads up: New laws taking effect Jan. 1]

Under the current law, anyone with a concealed handgun permit may carry a handgun into a restaurant or club that serves alcohol. However, that person may not drink while there.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League opposes the bill.

“It serves no purpose. It’s harming people who the state police track. I mean, if you’ve got a consumer handgun permit, you commit any kind of crime you can lose that permit. The state police know this. Somebody losing their permit is extremely rare and it’s almost never for a violent act or anything,” said President Philip VanCleave with the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The National Rifle Association agrees with the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

In a written statement, the organization said it opposed ‘gun-free zones,’ which leave citizens defenseless and vulnerable.

“This extension is a clear indication that the underlying intent is not safety, but rather a systematic effort to undermine the self-defense rights of law-abiding Virginians. Self-defense is a fundamental human right and a deterrent to crime. Sadly, bars and restaurants, whether they serve alcohol or not, are not immune from criminal acts. It’s essential to recognize that public spaces are safer when citizens are equipped to protect themselves and others,” said NRA Spokesperson Billy McLaughlin.

However, residents agree with the proposed bill.

Virginia Resident Tia Anderson said she graduated from Virginia Tech in 2007 when the Virginia Tech shooting took place. She also said her son had an encounter with a man who had a gun at a grocery store.

“My son saw a man who was open carry in Wegmans, and he was like mommy, mommy, that man had a gun, and it really scared him. So, if I can have some piece of mind for my son,” said Anderson.

Christie Hall, who has a handgun permit, thinks guns and alcohol don’t mix.

“I know for myself I have a concealed weapons permit, and I have a handgun at home, but it’s in a locked box. I think people that are consuming alcohol definitely have a higher chance of getting angry or upset. Maybe getting in a fight and possibly pulling it out not thinking and not really knowing what they’re doing and regretting it later,” said Hall.

The bill was introduced during the last week of 2023, before the Virginia General Assembly is set to reconvene on January 10.

The proposed legislation was referred to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary.

Source: WSLS News 10

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