Thu 5 Mar 2009
I know that I’ll feel safer dining out when the Tennessee state legislature passes a bill allowing gun-permit owners to carry their concealed weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol. The bill advanced yesterday, but “was deferred because an amendment prohibiting guns after 11 p.m. in restaurants serving alcohol was filed late,” according to The Commercial Appeal, the newspaper in Memphis. (The legislature did pass a bill allowing concealed weapons in state and local parks, so watch oout for those angry soccer dads.) Notice that the restaurant bill has only been delayed; I guarantee, after having lived in Tennessee for most of my life, that sure as God made little green apples the legislature will approve this bill. Similar bills are working their way through the statehouses of Virginia and North Carolina.
Let’s see if we can follow the logic of this legislative process:
1. Alcohol is an intoxicating and sometimes impairing beverage, and people who drink too much often indulge in obnoxious and even threatening behavior.
2. Ergo: Let’s allow people to carry concealed weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol so when they get drunk and mean, they can shoot and maim and kill other patrons or restaurant staff with whom they clash!
This may not be how Aristotle would parse the proposition, but it describes the mental process of the typical denizen of Tennessee’s statehouse.
But wait! The thoughtful legislators of The Volunteer State included a caveat that should ensure the safety of diners innocently chowing down on their dinners or the waiters serving them. And that is: That people can carry concealed weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol — ready? — only if they don’t drink!
Now, the nature of a concealed weapon is that, you know, nobody knows it’s there except for the person carrying it. So will waiters and bartenders, along with asking for ID, have to ask if a patron is packing heat? Will there be signs in restaurant bars that say, “No Booze for Gun-Carriers”? Do you think that gun-toters will say to waiters, “No wine for me, thanks, I’m carrying”? No way. People with concealed weapons will be able to drink as freely as their potential victims.
We have had two incidents recently in Memphis in which people left restaurants, got their guns out of their cars, and shot someone; in one instance, a man shot and killed another man for parking too close to his car.
Turning restaurants into (concealed) armed camps on the specious argument that restaurants and bars are likely targets for robbery — so are banks and convenience stores! — is a terrible idea. The last thing I want to do is swing into a lamb shank and a glass of red wine at a local bistro knowing that the guy at the table next to me might have a .38 tucked into his waistband.
Restaurant do get robbed, of course, but they’re mainly fast-food places, and they get robbed before or after hours. The last thing robbers want is to go into some neighborhood establishment where a hundred people could be witnesses and identify them.
No, friends, the potential danger in dining out isn’t so much from robbers as from the pistol-packin’ guy who’s feeling pretty empowered by his iron. Say that robbers did barge into the place were you’re having dinner; do you want a hail of bullets ricocheting around from the guns of those concerned about their “safety”?
Image from atlanta.creativeloafing.com.