COLUMBIA — Senators advanced a bill Wednesday intended to let people with concealed-weapon permits carry their guns into restaurants, while cautioning gun rights advocates not to do “something stupid.”
The bill would allow permit holders to carry their concealed weapon into places that serve alcohol, unless the business has posted signs against it. The measure will be on next week’s agenda of the full Judiciary Committee.
“It restores some rights to people who should have those rights and protects the rights of business owners,” said Sen. Sean Bennett, R-Summerville, the bill’s main sponsor.
More than 187,000 South Carolinians hold concealed-carry permits, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
The bill makes it illegal for people to drink alcohol while concealing a gun. Anyone caught could face up to two years in prison and a $2,000 fine.
Several people asked legislators to change that, saying they should be able to have, for example, a glass of wine with their meal.
“A CWP holder should be allowed to carry and consume in a restaurant as long as he doesn’t come under the influence,” said Robert Butler of South Carolina’s GrassRoots GunRights.
“We’re only asking to come in, have a beer with pizza or a glass of wine with dinner.”
John Durst, president of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, said his group hasn’t taken a position on the bill.