Bill would allow guns to be carried in restaurants

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (AP/WMBF) - A Senate panel has advanced a bill intended to let people with concealed weapon permits carry their gun into restaurants.

The bill advanced Wednesday on a 3-0 vote allows permit holders to carry their concealed weapon into places that serve alcohol.

Gun rights advocates praised the bill as restoring citizens' rights.

Drunken Jack's restaurant owner David McMillan said he thinks the bill will become law.

"It looks like it's on the fast track to being passed by our legislature," Said McMillan, who added it might not be a good idea.  "Well of course the combination of guns and alcohol brings concern to anyone."

The bill prevents people from drinking alcohol with a concealed gun. Anyone caught could face up to two years in prison.

Several people asked legislators to change that, saying they should be able to have a beer or glass of wine with dinner.

Republican Sen. Shane Massey of Edgefield says that would doom the bill's chances.

The bill also allows businesses that serve alcohol to decide whether or not they will allow concealed weapons to be carried in their buildings by displaying a no concealable weapons sign.

But McMillan said restaurant owners could take an image hit from the public if they do that.

"The backlash of a decision that a restaurant makes should they decide to post stickers that say you can't carry has been something that restaurateurs have been worried about because in other states that backlash has been considerable," Added McMillan.

King Street Grille manager Lauren Sullivan said the bill could cause headaches for bartenders serving drinks because they might not know who is carrying a concealed weapon.

"How would I know if they have a permit or not, are we supposed to check when they come in, do we have to ask them to see their permit," Added Sullivan.  "Because its kind of like a liability I would think on our end."

Anthony Roulette with the National Rifle Association says 45 other states allow some form of concealed weapons to be carried into restaurants.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this article.