Tennessee recently became the fourth state, joining Georgia, Virginia and Arizona, to enact a law that allows bar patrons to carry loaded, concealed guns.
The changes come as part of a national trend of creating liberal gun laws, formulated after Supreme Court rulings earlier this year overturned handgun bans in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. It’s a trend that gun rights advocates are beginning to exploit.
There’s no doubt that firearms can serve as an excellent way to protect one’s home and family from violent criminals, but they have no place in bars and nightclubs, where alcohol impairs one’s judgment.
The atmosphere that colors many drinking establishments inevitably leads to confrontations between individuals who would not be as aggressive if sober.
Usually, these confrontations, which can be over asinine disagreements, end with security intervening and ejecting instigators. However, if patrons are legally allowed to carry weapons, these traditional dramas may take a horrible turn.
Even if gun-toting patrons don’t violate laws that prevent them from drinking, other intoxicated customers can certainly become confrontational, and what would have been a fistfight may instead turn into a violent shooting.
David James was unarmed Sept. 26, when he was shot to death in front of his 8-year-old daughter in the middle of a suburban neighborhood in Valrico.
The shooting wasn’t related to an attempted robbery, but instead was the aftermath of an argument over skateboarding by neighborhood youths.
Because of the 2005 Stand Your Ground Law, the shooter was set free, as his firearm was legally registered and he apparently acted to protect himself from “great bodily harm,” as the law allows.
Combining laws that allow citizens to meet force with force can quickly get out of hand in bars and clubs when two or more well-armed patrons decide to defend themselves from what they perceive to be threats of great bodily harm.
Citizens are given the right to say just about whatever they like, which can sometimes be inflammatory and quickly lead to violence, especially in bars.
Owners may post signs prohibiting guns in their establishments, a fact that may be unknown to many proprietors. Even worse, they may have to choose between allowing guns or closing down their businesses – as some bars’ customer base may be heavily comprised of gun rights supporters.
Enacting reactionary laws that allow loaded firearms in bars and clubs is dangerously nave and risks the lives of innocent bystanders, as well as troublemakers whose actions may end up costing lives instead of black eyes and hangovers.