BY JUDY PANITCH Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created to change laws regarding drunk driving, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to build support for common-sense gun reforms. The nonpartisan grassroots movement of American mothers is demanding new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our children and families. In just nine months, the organization has more than 100,000 members with a chapter in every state in the country. For more information or to get involved visit www.momsdemandaction.org. Follow on Facebook www.facebook.com/MomsDemandAction or on Twitter @MomsDemand.
Guns in N.C. Restaurants? What You Need To Know
Moms are used to asking about guns in the home when our kids go on play dates or when they visit new friends. Beginning Oct. 1, we’ll also need to ask every time we go out to eat.
North Carolina’s newest gun bill, passed during the most recent legislative session, vastly expands the places where concealed carry weapons permit holders may bring loaded concealed firearms. Among the newly permissible locations will be bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Nearly every restaurant I visit has at least a short wine and beer list. So, unless the owner opts out by posting a conspicuous sign prohibiting concealed weapons, I won’t know who—or what—I am sitting next to. Nor will the restaurant’s staff.
Furthermore, while no one in North Carolina is supposed to drink while carrying a weapon, there will be no way for servers to ensure this; individuals carrying concealed are not obligated to disclose their weapons to anyone other than a law enforcement officer.
Having a weapon at hand can turn ordinary situations dangerous or even deadly. Negligence happens, fights break out, depression descends, and anyone can be in the line of fire. Only last month, a CCW permit-holder was shot by her own gun in a Wake Forest Staples when her toddler reached into mom’s purse and fired the handgun it contained.
That is why, along with other members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, our allies, and concerned diners statewide, I have been talking with restaurant owners and managers about my concerns. Even now, many restaurants have no idea that this law will soon take effect. Owners have been grateful for the information and the chance to speak with their lawyers, insurers, and local patrol officers. Nearly all have opted to exclude firearms.
Let restaurant owners know that, beginning Oct. 1, concealed carry permit-holders may bring loaded concealed handguns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, unless the owner posts a “conspicuous notice” prohibiting concealed weapons. The law does not specify additional requirements for the sign. Owners can make one themselves, download one from the Internet, purchase one, or request a free sign or sticker from the North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action (firstname.lastname@example.org) or groups such as the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.
The most important message to convey is to let restaurant staff, managers and owners know that you wish to eat in places that are free of firearms. Tell them that you are concerned about the safety of your family and the staff that serve you. Make a commitment to “Ask Before You Eat” and together, let’s offer our business and support to the restaurants that put the safety of our families and loved ones first.