There was unpleasant news today as Governor Bill Richardson signed a bill that will allow people who have permits to carry concealed weapons to take them into restaurants that serve beer and wine.
You know, like the places you and I take our children to.
The legislation was introduced during the most recent regular session by Sen. George Munoz, a Democrat, who had complained in the press that his gun was stolen from a locked car while in the possession of his sister – in the state of Nevada. If people were allowed to take their guns with them while they ate, they wouldn’t be stolen from their cars, Sen. Munoz argued.
Never mind that the incident that prompted Sen. Munoz to sponsor this bill took place in another state. Never mind that none of the bill’s supporters could produce any statistics showing that this is an actual problem in New Mexico.
The whole premise – that people should be able to bring concealed guns into places where alcohol is served – goes against common sense, not to mention specific studies done by non-partisan think tanks like the Virginia Center for Public Safety.
“I just think it’s a terrible idea,” said Sen. Eric Griego, a Democrat who opposed the bill and spoke out against it. “Families who go to restaurants now have to worry about whether someone may or may not be carrying a weapon.”
Griego acknowledged that permitted gun carriers may have great intentions to use their guns only for protection, but said he worries that accidents can happen whenever a dangerous weapon is present.
Griego said the new law puts restaurant owners – many of whom opposed the bill – in an unenviable position of enforcing the new law.
Griego said he tried to amend the bill to include a measure that would require restaurants to post a notice indicating whether they allow concealed guns or not – forcing the issue so customers would know. That amendment failed, he said. Now, if a restaurant doesn’t post a notice, it can be assumed that they allow concealed carry guns.
In my opinion, Gov. Richardson played awfully coy with this gun bill. He put it on the call for a session that was supposed to focus on the budget. Then the Governor had a spokesman say that in no way should be taken as a sign that he supports the bill. Immediately after the session, Richardson declined to say whether he’d approve the bill, saying “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Today in his announcement, he said, “My decision to sign this bill came after much contemplation and thought. I heard strong opinions from both those for and against the bill. As the Governor of a western state, I know well the deep feelings that come with such a measure, but I also understand those feelings and beliefs must be tempered by the enactment of certain safeguards.”
Richardson also said today that he was directing the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to revise a regulation that would make it clear that those with concealed weapons could not consume alcohol.
Sorry, that’s not good enough.
Thank God that restaurants who reject this new law can opt out by posting a conspicuous notice telling patrons that concealed weapons are not permitted in their restaurant.
Let’s hope they all do.
I won’t take my family to the ones that don’t.