'Guns and alcohol are not a good mix'
COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Ohio Senate on May 27 passed legislation that would allow conceal-carry permit owners to carry their firearms into establishments that serve alcohol. Ohio Senate Bill 239 was approved 23-10 and now heads to the Ohio House for a vote.
While the legislation specifically restricts gun owners from consuming alcohol, Jarrod Clabaugh, spokesperson for the Ohio Restaurant Association, said determining who is carrying a concealed weapon, and ensuring they are not served alcohol, poses serious challenges for restaurant owners. “In general, we feel that alcohol and guns are not a good mix and we oppose this legislation,” he said. “We understand and appreciate the argument for and against this bill, but we support preserving the current law as there’s been no [indication] that it’s not working.”
Several law enforcement agencies also oppose this bill, arguing it would be very difficult to police. Mark Drum, legislative chairman for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, who testified at the Senate hearing, called this legislation “unenforceable.” Because this bill would allow concealed weapons, “police wouldn’t know if there’s been a violation because they can’t ask everyone for their permit,” he said.
There is also concern regarding the language of the bill in regards to the consumption of alcohol. “Gun owners all say they are going to agree not to drink, but according to Ohio law it’s only a violation if you’re intoxicated and have a gun,” he said. “If police see someone with a gun, unless they see them drinking they don’t know there’s a violation.”
During his testimony, Drum suggested the bill contain stiff penalties for those who break the law. “We asked the Senate to add a provision that if they do indeed have alcohol in their system while in a bar and have a permit, that they lose their conceal-carry permit for life,” he said. However, that suggestion did not make it into the language of the bill.
Drum suggested that individual restaurant and bar owners prevent patrons from carrying concealed weapons in their establishments by posting the appropriate signage at entrances. “We recommend they put up a sign prohibiting people from carrying in a gun. It’s their establishment, it’s their right to do that,” he said.
Those in support of the bill argue that this legislation is needed because prohibiting concealed weapons “turns those places into ‘victim zones’ where citizens can’t protect themselves,” reported The Morning Journal.
If the bill passes the House, it is expected that Gov. Ted Strickland will sign the measure into law.