Among almost 900 new laws going into effect Thursday in Virginia is one that could bring more guns into restaurants.
A law passed by the General Assembly this winter allows people to carry concealed weapons into restaurants so long as they do not drink alcohol. Violating that would be a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a jail term of up to six months and/or a fine up to $1,000.
Some diners have concerns about "what if" scenarios that could arise from the change in law.
Eric Mendelsohn and Craig Shelden are visiting Harrisonburg and often eat at Virginia restaurants.
"It puts you in an awkward position, in particular if you're in a group, to say, 'Oh, well I could either declare my gun and not drink anymore tonight. Or, I could just trust myself to be careful about my drinking and not get into any fights,'" says Mendelsohn.
"It raises the issue of personal accountability to a whole new level," says Shelden.
Tim O'Neill, who runs Ham's Restaurant in Harrisonburg, says, "I think it's your constitutional right to bear arms. But, I think it's a dangerous slope we're leading ourselves up to with mixing alcohol and guns in the same building."
State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26th) was one of 22 senators to vote in favor of the law. An identical bill in the House passed 72-27.
The law won't necessarily apply to all restaurants. An owner still can decide to post a sign saying no firearms are allowed at all.
"I'm not concerned about the law-abiding citizens who have concealed carry permits. If somebody feels strongly about it as that, then they can post a sign saying nobody's allowed to have a firearm on their premises," says Obenshain.
Dennis Golden runs the gun store Ashby Arms in Harrisonburg and plans to take advantage of the new law.
"A person's right to defend themselves is God given. We shouldn't have to be disarmed, so that someone else can take advantage of that situation," says Golden.
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