One year ago this month, people with Concealed Handgun Permits (CHP) in Virginia were permitted to carry their firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol, provided the armed citizen did not himself imbibe. This had previously been illegal, although armed citizens had the option to ‘open-carry’ (and subject themselves to all the unnecessary ‘oh no, man with a gun!!’ hysteria that often results from law-abiding open-carry). This change in the law was long sought-after by CHP holders like myself for a few reasons.
First, it didn’t make any sense for us to have to leave our firearms locked in our cars, subject to being stolen, every time we visited an Applebees just because other people in the restaurant might be drinking. This made almost any sit-down restaurant in the state a prime target for criminals trying to get their hands on a gun. More fundamentally, it was damaging to public safety to make virtually all restaurants ‘gun-free’ zones. Violent crimes happen in restaurants too, and I have a right to defend myself and my loved ones there just as I do pretty-much anywhere else.
After all, we all know—or should know—from school shootings, violent crime in long-time gun ban cities like Chicago and Washington, church shootings, etc., that ‘gun-free’ zones are too-often not really gun-free. Criminals who intend to commit acts of violence scoff when a sign or ordinance tells them not to carry a firearm. They are already willing to shoot an innocent victim; what makes us think they will hesitate at taking a prohibited item into the area to do it? Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens are left completely disarmed in these places. A ‘gun-free’ zone is really a ‘sitting-duck’ zone.
So, when restaurant carry went into effect on July 1, 2010, the anti-freedom and anti-self-defense crowd went into a tizzy claiming that Virginia would become the wild west. We were breathlessly warned that drunken Ruby Tuesday patrons would be engaged in weekly firefights, that violent crime and murderous massacres would become commonplace, and that Virginia restaurants would no longer be safe for defenseless families and young children.
So where is the bloodbath? There has been none. As is always the case when self-defense rights are expanded for law-abiding citizens, our state has gotten safer, not more dangerous. Fewer guns are sitting in people’s glove boxes waiting to be stolen by violent criminals. Fewer people are disarmed against their will by an unnecessary law, and are thus more able to protect themselves and their families against the bad guys.
So will the bloviating anti-freedom folks at the Washington Post, Roanoke Times, Brady Campaign, and other outlets admit that they were wrong? Somehow I doubt it.