Bill to allow concealed weapons in bars advances

Those with concealed weapons permits are not allowed to bring their guns into establishments that serve alcohol. This measure would change that and define park areas where concealed weapons may be banned.

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Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — Those with concealed weapons permits would be able to carry their guns into bars and other establishments that serve alcohol under a bill approved by a Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. 
Under current law, concealed weapons are not allowed anywhere that serves alcohol. H 111 would change the law to allow permit holders to carry their weapons as long as they do not drink.

"You cannot have any alcohol in your system if you carry," Rep. Mark Hilton, R-Catawba, the House sponsor of the measure.

The measure would also define areas of parks where cities may ban concealed weapons. A handgun law the General Assembly passed last year allowed for bans in recreational areas but did not define them. Since then, there have been disagreements between gun advocates and cities about where municipalities can ban weapons. 

"This gives a clarification," said Hal Pel, a member of the legislature's bill drafting staff.

Most of the committee discussion Thursday focused on the bar and restaurant provision. 

"You firmly believe, in your heart of hears, that if someone with a concealed weapon goes into a restaurant, they're not going to drink a drop," Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, asked Hilton.

Hilton replied that similar measures have not been a problem in 44 other states where conceal carry permit holders can bring their guns into restaurants.

"Conceal carry permit holders are very law abiding citizens," said Josette Chmiel, who represents Grass Roots North Carolina, a advocacy group for gun owners. Chmiel said that she doesn't drink but sometimes goes to restaurants with her friends.  

"When I leave that restaurant-slash-bar, I am a target," Chmiel said. 

The bill passed on a voice vote and next goes to the Senate Finance Committee. 

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