Applying A Gun-Control Argument To Alcohol

Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 - 12:01 AM

By John Pierce
Special to the Herald Courier

As both a gun-rights activist and a concerned citizen, I have watched with great interest the drama that has been created by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s veto of Senate Bill 476. This bill would have allowed concealed-carry permit holders to carry firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol so long as they refrained from drinking.

The Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, which represents Virginia’s restaurant industry, was vociferous in its opposition to this bill. It repeatedly pointed out the dangers of alcohol and how it feared that adding guns to the mix could exacerbate these dangers. I am surprised, but encouraged, to see that Virginia’s restaurant owners clearly understand the threat posed by the easy availability of alcohol in restaurants.

EVEN THOSE who are prohibited by law from purchasing alcohol (minors) are easily able to procure it by simply having an older friend order it for them in what I am told is called a "straw purchase."

Consumption of alcohol is a threat that costs hundreds of innocent lives every year in Virginia, many of them children. We must stop giving in to the alcohol lobby and enact reasonable restrictions on the sale of alcohol for outside the home consumption! As you are no doubt aware, Virginia does not have "bars" in the traditional sense of the word. They have restaurants that are also licensed to serve alcohol. Although, there are establishments which are truly "bars" that are very thinly disguised as restaurants. This circumvention of the law is known as the deadly "restaurant loophole."

In data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a full 36 percent of all traffic crashes in Fairfax County were alcohol-related. And in Richmond, this number climbs to a whopping 55 percent. And yet, at restaurants all over the state, with parking lots full of automatic assault weapons (also known as cars), waiters and waitresses are allowed to serve alcohol to the operators of these vehicles while they are in possession of "concealed car keys."

NOW, I am not suggesting twe ban alcohol. I support the sporting use of alcohol in the home where a person is no danger to the innocents on our roads and highways (so long as alcohol is stored in such a way as to be inaccessible to children). But reasonable people can agree that to allow a person to consume alcohol, knowing that they have to drive home, is irresponsible in the extreme.

Seeing these numbers and the very real impact their businesses have on the lives of innocent Virginians and knowing how the owners of these restaurants feel about their duty to our communities, I have no doubt that they will be glad to support legislation banning alcohol sales in restaurants. After all, this is not the Wild West. We do not need saloons on every corner.

As a survivor of "alcohol violence," I ask this of Gov. Kaine and of the owners of Virginia’s many fine restaurants. If only one life can be saved, then will it not be worth it? Do this for Virginia’s families! Do this for the children!

John Pierce, of Bristol Virginia, is an NRA instructor and president of a software development firm. He may be reached at