How Do Guns in Restaurants Help Our Economy?
What does it say about your state when your General Assembly thinks you need concealed weapons to be safe in restaurants?
Welcome to North Carolina - or, as seen through the eyes of some of our state's congressmen, Beyond Thunderdome.
N.C. House Bill 111, which would permit concealed weapons in parks and restaurants, is one of several bills before the General Assembly intended to make it easier for people to carry handguns in public. Another, House Bill 184, would exempt elected officials from the concealed-carry restrictions that other gun owners face. House Bill 63 would allow employees to keep a gun in a locked vehicle in their workplace parking area.
The bills would alter the balance between public safety and an individual's right to self-defense.
HB 111 would make it legal to carry concealed weapons into restaurants, including those that serve alcohol. While it would still be illegal to serve alcohol to anyone with a weapon, making guns routine in restaurants would make it easier for someone who's already loaded to carry an equally loaded weapon into an establishment.
The bill forces another responsibility, another liability and more potential for confrontation on restaurant workers.
With regard to HB 63, it's hard to understand what good a gun locked in a car would do in the event of a workplace shooting. All HB 63 would do is save that disgruntled worker-turned-perpetrator the trouble of driving home and back.
HB 184 comes as a reaction to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. The problem is that having a concealed weapon wouldn't have changed the events of that tragic day unless the congresswoman also had extrasensory perception.
By the time Giffords saw Jared Loughner's weapon, if she ever saw the weapon, it was too late. Elected officials who think they might fare better should consider the likely fallout if, God forbid, they pulled a loaded gun on a constituent who turned out to be reaching for a business card.
As sensational as tragedies like the one in Phoenix are, homicidal psychopaths are pretty rare. The murder rate in North Carolina has declined from 8.5 per 100,000 in 1996 to 5.3/100k in 2009 - small comfort if you or someone you love is one of the 5.3, but it is an encouraging trend. Is it rational to believe that putting more guns in the hands of amateurs improves that number?
Carrying a concealed weapon in public does not make one part of a "well-regulated militia." We have professionals for that. That "defensive weapon" does not inspire confidence in people to whom the carrier is just an armed stranger. Rather, it makes them one more unnecessary and potentially lethal variable in an uncertain world.
Even assuming that the carrier only intends to use the weapon defensively, can his or her judgment be trusted? That's why we pay cops, to whom such people present an unwelcome complication.
The National Rifle Association contends that guns don't kill people; people kill people. They're right. People are just too unstable to be trusted with the deadly product they advocate so relentlessly for.
Our emotions cloud our judgment. Putting more guns out in public won't make people more stable; it will just make it easier for more people, including the more criminal and less stable among us, to acquire them. Second Amendment enthusiasts insist that the gun is not the problem. Fine, but can we quit pretending that it's the antidote?
Finally, these bills at the state level once again call into question the new General Assembly's priorities. In a state with best community college system in the country and some of the best universities in the country, our unemployment rate remains nearly a full point over the national average.
What does HB 111 say to businesses that might expand or relocate here? It says you might need to be armed to eat at our restaurants.
Kevin Smith lives in Aberdeen. Contact him at email@example.com.
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