Fireams law changes today for restaurants, bars serving alcohol

Sep. 30, 2013 @ 08:31 PM

Guns and alcohol don’t mix. That was the word from two Durham restaurant owners on a change in the state’s firearms law that goes into effect today, affecting restaurants that serve alcohol.

Starting today, handgun owners with concealed carry permits can take their weapons into restaurants and bars that serve alcohol unless their owners post notices stating otherwise. They cannot drink alcohol inside, however, said Paul Sherwin, public information officer for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

While the law affects establishments that serve alcohol, Sherwin said the new law does not apply to restaurants that don’t. Properly licensed concealed handgun permit holders have been allowed to bring concealed weapons into restaurants that do not serve alcohol, he said, and that is unchanged.

Sherwin said he doesn’t anticipate much of a change when it comes to enforcement as a result of the changes for establishments that do serve alcohol.

“Concealed weapon violations among concealed handgun permit holders are very rare,” he said in the email. “Generally, people who have concealed handgun permits are very conscious of the laws regarding when and where they may carry their weapons.”

Marcia Owen, executive director of the Religions Coalition for Nonviolent Durham, said the group has encouraged people to talk to restaurant owners.

“It seems like it’s not good for the safety of our citizens, and especially our families, to have loaded, hidden guns in restaurants and bars,” she said. “It, just to me, is a bad idea. The one thing that we are crystal clear about is that guns increase the violence of a situation. That what could have been harmful becomes lethal.”

Several Durham restaurant and bar owners declined comment for this story. Karen Mann, marketing and communications manager at the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the organization had not heard much about the changes from its members.

Tyler Huntington, the founder of the Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom chain of restaurants and bars, said signs prohibiting concealed handguns will be posted in all of the locations in Durham, Raleigh, Carrboro and Apex, and some have been posted already. He said they didn’t have a choice at the Durham location at the American Tobacco campus.

He said he thinks most people who have concealed-carry permits are responsible gun owners, but “we’d still rather not have that mix taking place.”

“I don’t really have an issue with somebody who has a concealed-carry permit carrying a weapon -- that’s their choice -- I just don’t really believe that guns and alcohol mix very well,” Huntington said.

Matt Kelly, the owner of the downtown tapas restaurant and bar Mateo Tapas and the co-owner of the Vin Rouge French bistro in Durham, said Monday a decision hadn’t been made yet. He said he needed to sit down with restaurant managers and his partner to talk about a policy.

While Kelly said he’s not against guns, he also said he doesn’t think “guns and alcohol mix.” He also added that weapons haven’t been an issue previously at Mateo Tapas or Vin Rouge, and he doesn’t expect it to be in the future.