Gov. Haley to Sign S308 Allowing Guns in Bars and Restaurants Serving Alcohol Today
Today, Governor Nikki Haley will sign into law Senate Bill 308 allowing loaded, concealed guns in all South Carolina establishments that serve alcohol including bars, nightclubs and family-friendly restaurants. The South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is denouncing this law, and vows to ensure businesses in South Carolina are fully educated about their right to prohibit firearms.
“Rather than addressing South Carolina’s epidemic of gun violence and the devastating impact it is having on our citizens, our elected officials are passing dangerous legislation that is anti-business and anti-tourism,” said Erin Dando, South Carolina chapter leader of Moms Demand Action. “This law will endanger our families and communities by allowing minimally trained civilians to carry concealed, loaded guns in dining establishments.”
South Carolina has one of the highest gun mortality rates and ranks first in the nation for women murdered by men, mostly due to gun violence. There have been several South Carolina cases over the past year where shootings have left bystanders paralyzed or killed inside or outside businesses serving alcohol. Just last week, a man trying to break up a bar fight in Lexington County was fatally shot.
“We are appalled that Governor Haley and the vast majority our lawmakers in Columbia are promoting more guns in public, especially in places where alcohol can escalate any situation into a fatality,” said Dando.
The Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) process requires South Carolina citizens to go through basic safety training and a background check, yet the new legislation removes the previously required minimum of eight hours of training. Each year, several hundred permits are revoked because the permit holder can no longer pass a background check due to criminal activity, or being adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill. According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), 364 permits were revoked in 2013.
“I hold a CWP license but agree that guns and alcohol don’t mix,” said Debby Edwards, gun owner and Moms Demand Action member. “It’s much more likely that a CWP holder will put lives at risk in a contentious situation than protect the lives of bar and restaurant patrons. This idea is simply not realistic.”
With the passage of S308, businesses have been thrown into the gun debate and are now facing vastly different safety and security issues. Owners will face liability issues if a shooting or accidental discharge occurs in their establishment. Likewise, if CWP holders are repeatedly cited for illegally consuming alcohol in a particular establishment, that business may, in turn, be considered a nuisance and its business license revoked.
Moms Demand Action members have canvassed businesses statewide for months, providing education about gun safety and offering to post the required signs to prohibit firearms.
“Many business owners are unaware of the pending law, or that they have the right to ban firearms and prohibit concealed guns,” said Dando. “The state has made requirements for signs prohibiting firearms so complex that it has been difficult for businesses to meet these requirements.”
“In just the past couple of days, we’ve delivered dozens of signs to businesses wanting to exercise their right to manage their property as they see fit and prohibit concealed firearms. We will continue to help businesses understand the law, and also patronize only those that prove they have gun sense,” Dando said.