Guns to be allowed in some Ariz. bars

09/04/09 Guns
A “No Firearms” sign is posted on the front door of The Tavern on Mill Avenue in response to a law passed earlier this year by the state House of Representatives. The law will allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons into some businesses that serve alcohol starting Sept. 29.(Matt pavelek | The State Press)
Published On:
Friday, September 4, 2009
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“No Firearms” signs are going up at bars and restaurants near the ASU Tempe campus as businesses prepare for a new state law allowing licensed gun carriers to bring concealed weapons inside.

The law, effective Sept. 29, allows licensed gun carriers to bring their concealed weapons into businesses that sell liquor as long as they don’t consume alcohol on site.

Restaurants and bars can prohibit weapons in their establishments if they post a 6- by-9-inch “No Firearms” sign next to their liquor license, said Lee Hill, communications director for the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.

Hill said it will be interesting to see how the new law is executed.

“This is one of those laws that you have to see how it plays because there’s really no way to know how a concealed weapon is going to be recognized,” Hill said.

Some of the restaurants around the ASU Tempe campus that have requested or put up signs include The Tavern on Mill, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Barney’s Boathouse.

Chris “Barney” Barnett, owner of Barney’s Boathouse on University Drive, said he doesn’t think the law will make Tempe bars safer because he can’t know if someone has already consumed drugs or alcohol before arriving at the restaurant.

“Even though he won’t be able to drink on premises with his gun, I don’t know what kind of condition he’s going to be in before he gets here,” Barnett said. “It also makes our staff feel uncomfortable when they’re trying to deal with customers and they’ve got a loaded weapon in their possession.”

Though Barnett said he doesn’t think the sign will affect his business, it may give the wrong impression to tourists about his restaurant.

“The locals are going to know that … there are no guns in the bar and they will probably feel more comfortable,” he said. “But as a tourist coming in, I think they would think that this place must be getting pretty rough because they have to put up a sign to ward off people carrying firearms.”

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-District 8, co-sponsored the legislation and said he doesn’t think it will have a negative effect on the bars and restaurants in the Mill Avenue District.

“If anything, [the law] will make [bars and restaurants] safer for the individuals who have been screened and tested to carry weapons,” Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh said most U.S. states allow concealed weapons in bars.

“There’s no reason why carefully-screened individuals who’ve secured permits shouldn’t be allowed to carry weapons at an establishment that serves alcohol so long as they’re not drinking,” Kavanagh said. “Banning weapons is the exception, not the rule, in the U.S.”

The signs can be requested by e-mail from the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, or printed off their Web site. Two bar and restaurant lobbyist organizations are also handing out the signs upon request, Hill said.

Junior music major Thor Mikesell, a former member of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus at ASU, said he supports the law.

“I think this is a great step in defining and interpreting the Second Amendment in enabling individuals to be more assertive of their own self-defense,” Mikesell said.

Mikesell, a gun owner, said he thinks it’s fantastic that bar and restaurant owners can prohibit weapons if they want.

“Any proprietor should have that right to choose whether or not they will allow weapons in their establishment,” Mikesell said. “We as consumers and gun owners should respect their right and rules of the establishment of whether to bring in a weapon or not.”

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