Reaction to law that would allow guns in restaurants

Thursday, the South Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill by a vote of 90 to 18 that would allow people with Concealed Weapon Permits to take a gun into a restaurant or bar in South Carolina, as long as there's no sign barring weapons.

The bill is now on Governor Nikki Haley's desk, and she's expected to sign it.

Greg Hembree, former solicitor and now a State Senator who represents parts of the Grand Strand, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Hembree says we would be the 39th state to pass this law.

"Citizens intervening have stopped criminals because they were armed, and they were able to intervene and save a victim or help a victim, so it's worked," said Hembree.

Ron Labrie says he's for the bill,and says it should be a choice to protect yourself.

"I just think in today's day and age, people should be able to protect themselves no matter what. I mean there's just too many people out here that don't have any regard for other people," said Labrie.

But David Beaumont says he doesn't agree with the bill, and he sees no need for guns to be near alcohol.

"I don't think honestly that people should go into a bar carrying a loaded weapon," said Beaumont.

The bill says if you're carrying a gun, you cannot drink alcohol.

Beaumont responded, "Then why should you go into the bar if you're not going in there to drink alcohol? Why should you carry a gun in there?"

If Governor Nikki Haley signs Senate Bill 308 into law, restaurants can put a sign up barring any weapons.

If someone carries in a prohibited bar, their CWP would be revoked for five years, plus they'd face up to two years in prison and a $2,000 fine.

That same fine would also be applied to those who are carrying and drinking alcohol in an establishment that allows guns.

"People who are criminals, they aren't going to bother getting a Concealed Weapons Permit. They're just going to carry their gun in the bar anyway. They're going to drink as much as they want, and they're going to do what they're going to do. So, you're not talking about the law breakers, you're talking about the law abiders, and giving them the ability to defend themselves and defend others," said Hembree.

WPDE NewsChannel 15 spoke with the Commander of the VFW Post in Murrells Inlet who told us if the bill becomes a law, he'll put a sign up barring weapons. He says he sees no room for guns and doesn't think it's necessary to have them in a bar.

What do you think about this bill? Leave us a comment below.