S. 276, S. 308, and H. 3053 would all allow a CWP holder to carry into a non-posted restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages and also reduces the penalties from a maximum jail time of three years to a maximum jail time of two years. The reduction in maximum jail time now means that a violation does not incur a lifetime federal firearms disability. The CWP holder must also leave the premises if asked to do so, and cannot consume alcoholic beverages while carrying in the restaurant.
Almost 75% of the people in America live where a CWP holder can carry into restaurants and consume alcoholic beverages, too. It works fine in the rest of America. So, what is it about SC CWP holders that would not allow them to eat and drink here, too? Just because you have a glass of wine with dinner should not make you ineligible to employ effective self-defense. We do not prohibit drinking and driving, we prohibit driving while under the influence. CWP holders should be allowed to responsibly consume alcoholic beverages while dining out.
These bills are all a step forward from what we have now. But, these bills need to be amended to not jeopardize the safety of those who would have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with pizza. Remember, robbers look for poorly lit places where people with money can be found, and most people eating at restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages do so in the evenings after dark while carrying money to pay the bill. It appears that the people most in need of protection are the very people to whom the government denies the means of effective self-defense.
H. 3053, which has the most co-sponsors of the three similar bills, could be amended to read:
“A person is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than two thousand dollars, or both, if that person:
. . .
(3) consumes alcohol while carrying a firearm in a business that sells alcoholic liquor, beer, or wine for consumption on the premises in violation of Section 23-31-400(B).”
Section 23-31-400(B) makes it a crime to use a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. This proposed amendment would allow a CWP holder to consume alcoholic beverages, but still keep it a crime to use a firearm while under the influence. This amendment would keep SC within the mainstream of CWP regulation across the US, and it would no longer provide the bad guys with an assured unarmed class of victims.