Advocates of a law that took effect last July are demanding that those opposed apologize for raising a stink over potentials that never came to fruition. The law allows licensed concealed weapons carriers to take their weapons into bars and restaurants. Since the law took effect, there has been no noticeable increase in associated crimes as the opponents said there would be. Instead, firearm related crime in these establishments has actually dropped.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch major crimes involving firearms in Virginia restaurants and bars actually fell 5.2% in the past year when compared with the prior year when such weapons were not allowed at all. Of those crimes that were committed, the news says they were “relatively minor” and usually involved people who weren’t licensed concealed weapons carriers at all.
When the legislation was pending, opponents said the passing would result in a free for all, with gun crimes in such establishments going through the roof. And while they might be right about guns and alcohol not mixing, the law says those with a concealed weapon can’t drink while in the bar, but merely be present. It doesn’t, however, stop those who carry visible weapons from drinking.
Virginia is now one of 43 states that allow concealed weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol. One supporter of the law and the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League says the decrease in crime is not surprising and calls it a “big yawn.” “The numbers basically just confirm what we’ve said would happen if the General Assembly changed the law.”
One thing the Times-Dispatch doesn’t point out is that crime overall has declined over the past calendar year. The decrease of firearms offenses in restaurants and bars isn’t likely because of the new law. Instead, the law more likely has had a neutral effect on crime rates.
In Virginia, firearms laws are complex and confusing, particularly when it comes licensed carriers. There are laws pertaining to how you carry your weapon, where you carry it, if you show it, and definitely if you fire it. The penalties for licensed firearms owners are often comparable to those for unlicensed owners. Understanding the differences in these laws and the slight nuances can be difficult for even the most savvy gun owner.
If you are charged with a firearms offense, you need the assistance of a Virginia criminal defense attorney. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and what options may be available to you.