Concerned that the General Assembly might be holstering its “gun rights” zeal? After all, the state Senate recently put some reasonable restrictions in a bill to expand the authority for those with concealed-carry permits.
Not to worry. A House Judiciary subcommittee decided Thursday to kill those limitations on carrying a pistol after midnight into bars and restaurants. It should be a relief for those who can feel secure in an eatery or watering hole only when surreptitiously armed.
According to a report in The State newspaper, a local spokesman for the National Rifle Association told subcommittee members that those who are permitted to carry concealed weapons do not suddenly become “irresponsible and lawless” at the stroke of midnight.
No, but things can get rowdy in bars as the evening turns into early morning. “What happens if another patron gets drunk and the gun-carrying person feels threatened?” Sylvie Dessau asked the panel. Ms. Dessau is a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.
Perhaps the best advice to patrons and restaurant workers would be to take cover.
Panel members described the Senate limits as arbitrary, vague and difficult to enforce.
And of course, there is always legislative concern that a gun owner somewhere in South Carolina might not be able to fully exercise his Second Amendment rights.
Nevertheless, in a nod to private property rights, the bill includes a provision that lets bar and restaurant owners post signs prohibiting guns on the premises.
So at least in those establishments, an Old West-style saloon shootout is less likely.