The legislation passed in the state's House of Representatives on
Thursday by a vote of 90-18 makes it a crime to drink alcohol while
carrying a concealed weapon on those premises.
Restaurants and bars will still be allowed to post signs prohibiting
firearms. In South Carolina, 229,310 people have permits to carry
"Those folks are law-abiding citizens who are trained," said
Republican state Senator Sean Bennett, who sponsored the measure in
his chamber, where it previously passed.
"Stopping in a restaurant to eat had gotten to be a problem,"
Bennett said. "What do they do with their weapon, how do they secure
it in their vehicle, what about their safety in parking lots and
Permit holders face losing their concealed-weapon carrying rights
for up to five years if they violate the law by drinking while they
have their gun in a restaurant or bar.
Haley, a Republican seeking re-election this year and who last month
said she got a semi-automatic pistol for Christmas, plans to sign
the measure, a spokesman said.
"Governor Haley has and will always be a supporter of open-carry
laws, and will sign any bill that doesn't restrict the rights of gun
owners," said Haley spokesman Doug Mayer.
Critics of the legislation voiced concern about mixing guns and
alcohol. Bennett said no one from the restaurant industry came
forward during hearings to object to the legislation.
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In interviews on Friday, several workers in restaurants across South
Carolina said it would be impossible to tell if a gun-toting
customer was drinking.
They said they planned to post signs barring patrons from bringing
guns inside their businesses.
"Personally, I cannot believe they passed that," said Bill Barber,
general manager of a bar and restaurant in Murrells Inlet, near
Myrtle Beach, that caters to motorcycle riders. "I know they're not
supposed to drink ... but we're surrounded by idiots in this world
and some idiots carry guns."
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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