Va. Senate votes to allow guns in restaurants
The Democratically-controlled Virginia Senate has voted to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns in restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as the person carrying the weapon does not drink. The gun bill passed on a 22 to 18 vote, after senators had a vigorous debate about whether or not people might have a reasonable reason to carry guns in restaurants.
The House has passed a similar bill; Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has expressed support for the measure, and is expected to sign it into law. Both chambers also passed it last year, but Gov. Tim Kaine (D) vetoed it.
Sen. Emmett Hanger (R), who sponsored the measure, said he was doing so on behalf of those who now violate the law that prohibits guns in such establishments rather than leave their weapons in their cars when they go out to eat. He said this was a particular issue for women who carry guns in their purses to defend themselves when they go to, say, Red Lobster. (That was Hanger's example.)
Others argued guns have no place in eating establishments where alcohol is being served. Though the bill would prohibit a weapons carrier from drinking, the opponents said it would be impossible to tell if the law was being violated if the gun was concealed.
The debate was concluded by Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D). "As a final comment, let me just say this. I've really never been afraid for my life at the Red Lobster," she said.