Blood in the streets! We’re all going to die! At least that’s what the Ohio news media would have you believe.
As of today, unless there’s a sign at the establishment telling you otherwise, Ohioans with a concealed carry permit can carry their firearms into any D permit premises. They are not allowed to consume any alcohol while they are carrying their firearm.
Read that again. No booze, beer, or alcohol of any kind while carrying. Nothing.
Opponents are predicting blood in the bars, just as they predicted blood in the streets ten years ago when Ohio finally reformed their self-defense laws. “Guns and alcohol don’t mix,” we’re told. And they’re right. The Ohio legislature agrees with them. The ORC says you can’t be under the influence when you’re carrying a firearm. They’ll allow you to have a drink or three, up to 0.08 BAC and still drive, but they don’t think you should have any testable amount of alcohol in your bloodstream when you have a firearm.
Before we go too far, we need to work on our language choices here. In Ohio, a D permit allows consumption of alcohol, including beer, wine, mixed beverages and spirituous liquor on the premises. D permits apply to any establishment, from Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Applebees and Hooters to Mccarthys Ale House & Patio, Union Bar & Grill, and Billy Goat Tavern, if they sell alcohol for on-premises consumption.
So it’s not just bars. Ohio news media has been fanning the hysteria by using the phrase “guns in bars,” which certainly paints a particular picture in one’s mind. Far better would have been “restaurant carry.” “Firearms in liquor permit premises” would be technically correct as well, but it doesn’t role off the tongue with the same flair and drama as “guns in bars,” does it? Not nearly as hysteria-inducing.
“How are bar owners and bartenders supposed to enforce this?” “How do we know people won’t just say they’re not carrying, and drink anyway?” The same way bar owners and bartenders enforce drinking and driving statutes now. They don’t, and no one expects them to. One person pointed out to me that “Bar owners/bartenders are by law not allowed to serve people, that they can visibly see becoming drunk, more alcohol. It is called the Dram Shop Act.” Let’s look at that.
According to Ohio’s dram shop law, persons who were injured by an intoxicated person may have a cause of action against the business establishment who sold them the alcoholic beverage. The business’ liability depends somewhat on where the injury actually occurred:
• On the premises: If the injury occurred on the business owner’s premises, or in a parking lot under their control, the business owner will be held liable if the injury was caused by the negligence of the business or a business employee.
• Off premises: A business owner or employee may be held liable for injuries that occurred off premises if the establishment sold alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated, or if the person was a minor. These injuries may include automobile accidents as well as attacks or fist fights. (Info courtesy LegalMatch.com)
My friend went on to say “It IS the responsibility of the bar owner to make sure that his/her patrons are not intoxicated to the point that they cannot operate a vehicle.” Not exactly. Considering the presumption of intoxication happens at .08 BAC, I would guess that the average bartender or server has no clue when their average customer has reached that legal point, which happens long before they’re stumbling, or slurring their speech. For most people, it happens after the first or second drink. And when’s the last time your server asked you if you were going to drive before they served your third or fourth or fifth beer? When I still drank, I never got asked about my post-consumption plans by a bar employee.
The bee in everyone’s bonnet seems to be that they’re fine with trusting you to stop drinking in time to be safe before you start driving, but they don’t think you can be trusted to not drink at all. Why people fine with allowing people to get behind the wheel of a car after a couple of drinks, but doesn’t think they can be trusted with a firearm at the same point? Scott Heimlich, vice president of the Central Ohio Restaurant Association, says “The law says they can’t consume alcohol, but will that person be honest and play by the rules and not have a drop of alcohol when they have a gun on them?” Well, why wouldn’t they? You trust them about not driving after they’ve consumed a mood-altering depressant. Why shouldn’t you trust them about not consuming that mood-altering depressant in the first place?
It saddens me to think that so many people lose the ability to think clearly when an issue includes the right to self-defense. “I’ve never seen a case that warranted the use of a gun in the bar,” said one Columbus bar owner. But that’s short-sighted. What about the block-and-a-half their patrons have to walk to get to and from their car? What about the trip home? The idea that violent crime only happens in certain areas is frighteningly naïve and prevalent. Violent crime can and does happen anywhere, and the police have no duty to protect you as an individual. It’s nice when they can keep something bad from happening, and they sometimes catch the bad guy quickly, but they’re really only there to write reports, draw chalk outlines around your body, and go after the bad guy after he’s committed the crime.
Ohio is not the first state to recognize that their citizens can be trusted with the ability to carry guns in places that serve alcohol. The predicted blood did not run in the streets or bars or restaurants there, and there’s no reason to think that Ohioans are that different.
The only person directly responsible for your protection and safety is you. Restaurant carry in Ohio just means you can protect yourself in more places.