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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Concealed weapons allowed in bars

The new law that allows firearms allowed in bars goes in affect tomorrow Wed. Sept. 30th. Bars, like Ches are preparing for the law by placing No Firearms Allowed signs in their windows and around the bar.
The new law that allows firearms allowed in bars goes in affect tomorrow Wed. Sept. 30th. Bars, like Che’s are preparing for the law by placing “No Firearms Allowed” signs in their windows and around the bar.

UA area bartenders aren’t too concerned about a new Arizona law that goes into effect today allowing guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol — but they are asking, “”What’s the point?””

Under the law, backed by the National Rifle Association, the 138,350 people with concealed-weapons permits in Arizona will be allowed to bring their guns into bars and restaurants that haven’t posted signs banning them.

Those carrying the weapons won’t be allowed to drink alcohol.

“”If you’re going to come in and hang out with a gun, then there’s no point,”” said Nathan Scott, who has been a bartender at O’Malley’s for seven years.

An 8½-by-11-inch sign that says “”No Firearms Allowed”” and shows a red slash over a gun now hangs next to the door of O’Malley’s and most Fourth Avenue bars. If a bar owner does not post such a state-approved sign, people with concealed weapons are allowed in with their guns.

Scott said he thought most bars would take advantage of the rule.

“”If there’s a loophole that says you can put up a sign up, everybody and their brother is going to do it,”” he said.

There is no way to track how many of Arizona’s 5,800 bars and restaurants that serve alcohol have posted such signs. The Arizona Department of Liquor Licensing and Control has signs available for download on its Web site and doesn’t track that figure.

The department has provided 1,300 signs to bar and restaurant owners who went to the department in person or asked to have signs mailed to them.

Bill Cleveland, a bartender at The Buffet Bar, said bars should be allowed to set their own policies in general — whether relating to guns, smoking or other behaviors.

“”I know alcohol and guns don’t mix … I’m more pissed about smoking regulations,”” he said. “”This is like our home. We should set the rules.””

Cleveland called the new guns-in-bars law “”the most redneck thing I’ve ever heard of,”” saying he’d been shot at more than once during his 12-year career as a bouncer and bartender.

Despite the law allowing bars to ban weapons, some bartenders felt that even discussing whether guns should be allowed in bars is a mistake.

“”I don’t understand how it got passed,”” said Ryan Bluhm, a bartender of two years at The Shanty.

Bluhm said he was glad the law allowed bars to let in weapons at their own discretion, but the fact that the law allows guns into bars at all “”makes you feel a little unsafe.””

The topic of guns and bars touched off a short debate at Bluhm’s counter, with a few patrons pitching in their perspective.

“”If somebody’s not drinking, I have no problem if they have a gun,”” said patron Jay Grubbs, who was celebrating his 47th birthday.

Grubbs said law-abiding gun owners with concealed weapons permits weren’t the kind of people who would pose a problem.

“”If they have a permit, then you know they’re OK,”” Grubbs said. “”I have a problem taking guns away from people who don’t make problems.””

Another patron, Tiffany Zaytsow, said she thought bars might have trouble enforcing the no-drinking rule if the weapons were concealed.

“”What are bars going to do, give out wristbands?”” she said. “”This is a fine example of a law being passed with no idea how to enforce it.””

Taking a gun into a bar banning weapons would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

But the law includes a partial legal defense. A person would be exempt if the sign banning guns had fallen down, the person wasn’t an Arizona resident or the notice was first posted less than a month earlier.

J.P. Nelson, director of the NRA’s western region, said people with concealed-weapons permits have the right to protect themselves by bringing guns into bars and restaurants.

“”Bad things happen in bars and restaurants,”” Nelson said. “”People want to carry a gun, and if the facility owner doesn’t have a problem with it, there shouldn’t be a problem. If a person starts drinking and gets in a shootout and kills someone, of course they’re subject to criminal prosecution.””

Other Fourth Avenue bar-goers weren’t so enthusiastic.

“”You go to a bar to have a good time. Leave it at home,”” said Che’s Lounge patron Bun Dumdey. “”You protect your home, not the bar.””

Arizonans are also allowed to openly carry guns — on a belt or holster, for example — but still won’t be allowed in bars or restaurants serving alcohol under the new law.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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