Crime down in Virginia Bars and Restaurants After Allowing Concealed Handguns to be there
Virginia's bars and restaurants did not turn into shooting galleries as some had feared during the first year of a new state law that allows patrons with permits to carry concealed guns into alcohol-serving businesses, a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis found.
The number of major crimes involving firearms at bars and restaurants statewide declined 5.2 percent from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, compared with the fiscal year before the law went into effect, according to crime data compiled by Virginia State Police at the newspaper's request.
And overall, the crimes that occurred during the law's first year were relatively minor, and few of the incidents appeared to involve gun owners with concealed-carry permits, the analysis found.
A total of 145 reported crimes with guns occurred in Virginia bars and restaurants in fiscal 2010-11, or eight fewer than the 153 incidents in fiscal 2009-10. State police track all murders, non-negligent manslaughters, aggravated assaults, forcible sex crimes and robberies in more than two dozen categories, including "bars/nightclubs" and "restaurants." . . .
"Keep in mind," Van Cleave added, "what the other side was saying — that this was going to be a blood bath, that restaurants will be dangerous and people will stop going. But there was nothing to base the fear-mongering on."
State Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, who was a strong opponent of the law, said it's not clear what conclusions can be drawn from just a year's worth of data.
"Most folks obey the law, and that's a good thing," said McEachin, who remains staunchly opposed. "But I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that just like drinking and driving doesn't mix, guns and drinking don't mix." . . .
More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch on concealed carry on college campuses:
Virginia's top lawyer stands firm on the issue of campus defense. In a recent opinion, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli affirmed the rights of concealed-handgun permit holders to possess firearms on campus despite an apparent conflict with University of Virginia policy.
Virginia's code of law states that a holder of a concealed-handgun permit may possess a handgun anywhere except "in places where such possession is prohibited by law."
As Cuccinelli points out, the policies of the University of Virginia do not hold the force of law and therefore cannot restrict where permit holders may carry. In addition, were the total ban to be made into statute — and therefore hold force of law — it would be found unconstitutional by previous rulings of the Virginia Supreme Court. . . .