Bill allowing concealed guns in parks, restaurants sparks debate

Posted April 2, 2011 9:06 p.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2011 7:52 a.m. EDT

Pro-gun measures moving through legislature

— A bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in public parks and greenways across the state and in restaurants where is alcohol is served is drawing passionate arguments on both sides of the issue.

Supporters point to the Second Amendment, while opponents say they can't believe such a bill is being discussed.

The state House voted earlier this week in favor of House Bill 111, which is one of several proposed laws that would loosen gun restrictions. It now goes to the Senate.

Randy Mann took his two sons fishing at Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh Saturday. Under HB 111, people with a permit could bring concealed handguns to that park, but Mann says it doesn't bother him.

"As long as they had it concealed and it wasn't loaded," he said.

Park-goer Carl Nelson disagreed. 

"It's a family place. There's no need for it," he said. "I wouldn't think anyone would approve such a bill."

The same debate is circling in restaurants where alcohol is served. The bill forbids anyone from consuming alcohol if they have a concealed, permitted weapon in a restaurant.

Several people at Sammy's Tap and Grill in Raleigh said handguns and alcohol don't mix.

"I can't believe that's even coming up for consideration," said Sammy's patron Mike Derrico.

"That's scary. People get drunk, and they get crazy sometimes," said Rachael Heath.

Her husband, Rick, however, was on the opposite side of the debate.

"If someone gets a concealed weapon permit, I don't see anything wrong with being able to bring it in to an establishment like this," he said. 

Nelson thinks lawmakers are playing with fire in considering the bill. 

"I think it's calling for trouble, unnecessary trouble that no one needs," he said.

If the bill becomes law, it would take effect in December.

Other gun-related proposals being considered in the legislature include House Bill 227, which loosens restrictions on buying handguns in other states; House Bill 63, which allows employees to lock guns inside their cars at work; and House Bill 390, which would do away with the requirement for a local permit to purchase a pistol.