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Bill would allow guns in restaurants that serve alcohol

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An Upstate gun owner carries his gun in a holster. (File/FOX Carolina) An Upstate gun owner carries his gun in a holster. (File/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

What comes to mind when you hear guns and alcohol?

According to South Carolina law, carriers of concealed weapon permits (CWP) can't bring their guns anywhere that serves alcohol. Soon, that could change.

Four Upstate senators are co-sponsors on a new amendment that would allow people with concealed carry permits to carry their weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol if they're not drinking.

This bill passed in the South Carolina house last session, but the senate never got around to passing it. Now both house and senate need to pass it this session before folks would be able to carry concealed weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol.

Sen. Larry Martin (R- Pickens) said the current law states that CWP owners cannot carry weapons anywhere that serves alcohol. That includes a lot of regular restaurants.

Martin said the amendment would let permit carriers have guns on them in restaurants as long as the person is not drinking alcohol. The restaurants will have the right to post a sign banning guns even if the law passes.

He said the amendment just expands the reach of the concealed weapon permit, so folks who know how to handle guns can be there in case of robbery or threats. Martin said most permit holders are responsible with their guns.

"These folks have had fingerprinting. They've undergone a background check. These are folks that are out there carrying a weapon and not intending on doing anybody harm," Martin said.

Greg Hazelhurst owns chiefs in Greenville. He said his sports grill will not allow guns even if the amendment passes.

"I don't know how in the world anyone would be able to keep up with who has a carry permit, who doesn't have a carry permit, and how do you monitor the person once they're inside the building?" Hazelhurst wonders. He said it would be too difficult to keep track of who has a carry permit and who is drinking.

Greenville grandmother, Toni Logan, agrees and doesn't want guns in any public place. Her daughter, Erica Hendon, disagrees.

She said the point of a carry permit is for people to protect themselves. Hendon acknowledged the idea that people oftentimes need to walk blocks in the dark after eating at a restaurant. She hopes the concealed weapons permit requirements become more stringent, but thinks that people with the permits should get to carry them if they're not drinking.

Martin said the amendment will be heard in the judiciary committee next Tuesday. From there, if approved, it'll head to voting in the senate.

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