Bryan Caskey’s dispassionate analysis of CWP bill

Relax... Bryan says it won't be like this...

Relax… Bryan says it won’t be like this…

Today, I offer you two views of the new bill to allow patrons to carry firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. There’s Cindi Scoppe’s “Armed, untrained and cruising the bars.” (And I’m not at all convinced she was unaware of the double entendre implication of “cruising,” just to take it to an unexpected level.) Excerpt:

YOU’RE IN A bar in the early morning hours, and there’s a guy across the room who’s drinking heavily, who keeps glaring at you. It’s more than a little unsettling, because you know South Carolina now allows concealed-weapons-permit holders to carry guns into bars. You also know that the Legislature watered down the training requirements when it passed the guns-in-bars provision. And you know that South Carolina has an extremely liberal stand-your-ground law, which allows you to use lethal force if you feel threatened.

So when the drunk across the room suddenly reaches inside his jacket, you pull your own pistol and shoot.

Only you’re not the best aim, so you hit his companion.

And it turns out that he was reaching for his ringing cell phone.

That scenario was described to me a year ago by a Republican senator who was troubled by the obsession of some of his colleagues with lifting the state’s restriction on carrying concealed weapons into establishments that sell alcohol. Clearly, his scenario won’t play out every day once the guns-in-bars legislation becomes law. (The bill still must be signed by the governor, and she can’t do that until a ratification session, which can’t happen until at least next week because the Legislature is taking the week off due to the possibility of snow.) It won’t happen every month, and probably not every year. But it’s not much of a stretch to imagine it could happen once or twice….

And then there’s our own Bryan Caskey, who seems to have hit his stride as a blogger with this topic, combining his knowledge of the law and his love and respect for guns (and rifles, too, I assume). He reports via email:

On Friday I got my post up about the CWP bill, and boy, did it take off, traffic-wise. I normally get a couple hundred hits on my whole blog during an active day, but my CWP bill post got over 300 hits alone…and counting. What’s more amazing to me is that the post has received 51 “likes” via the Facebook button. I think my record for “likes” on a post is maybe 2. For my blog to penetrate to Facebook, someone else has to pick it up, since I don’t use Facebook.


Pageviews is one thing, but having someone hit that “like” button on Facebook is different – it requires actual clicking interaction from the reader than simply doing nothing. Anyway, just thought I’d pass that along and toot my own horn a little.

As always, feel free to link or disregard.

And of course, I prefer to link. Good for Bryan. Basically, he was dissatisfied with reporting on the bill itself, and decided to provide a detailed, dispassionate analysis. He did so quite well. Just as he says he learned a good deal from the 8-hour CWP course that would no longer be required under this bill (which he thinks is a bad thing about the bill), I learned a good bit from his post.

He saw good and bad in the bill — but neither as much good as most gun lovers would like, nor as much bad as those of us who say, Yeah, that’s just what was missing in SC — a new law saying its OK to pack heat in bars (people like Cindi, and to some extent me) — think.

Here’s the weirdest aspect, to me. After explaining that the bill would still allow bar and restaurant owners to declare their establishments gun-free zones by posting signs, Bryan adds this:

Additionally, even if the bar or restaurant doesn’t post the sign, they can still request that any particular person carrying concealed leave on a case-by-case basis. If that person refuses to leave, same penalty as above. So if you’re a bar or restaurant, you can either chose to have an entirely gun free zone, or a selectively gun free zone….

Yeahhhh… I’m just trying to imagine a bar owner with the cojones to carry that off. Think about it — the only time a proprietor might intervene in such a manner is when there’s a tense situation, right? You know, the kind where he goes, “Well, normally I’d allow guns (hence no sign), but THIS guy’s worrying me right now…” The guy’s packing heat, he’s apparently losing it, and you’re going to change the rules on him now? If Gary Cooper, or better yet Wyatt Earp, came back to life and opened a bar in Five Points, maybe. But I don’t know who else would manage that.

Anyway, Bryan’s post is helpful and informative. I recommend it. And he now has 86 “likes” on Facebook.

34 thoughts on “Bryan Caskey’s dispassionate analysis of CWP bill

  1. Casey

    Not in any fashion the way you or Cindi pictures it, you carry in a bar and order a drink… you go to jail, lose your CWP and likely get charged with a felony which eliminates your chance of ever owning a gun again.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    As always, I’m happy to be linked here, where the discussion happens — marketplace of ideas and such.

    The best thing about the bill is that it gives everyone flexibility to do what they want. If you don’t want people carrying in your establishment, you put up a sign. If you do, then you can. Or you can selectively enforce either way.

    Backing out to big picture, I honestly think that if someone who is really anti-gun spent some time with a responsible gun owner, their feelings on the topic would likely change. Not unlike how people who are very anti gay marriage, and then they spend time with a gay couple only find that their feelings on that issue have changed.

    It’s easy to demonize the other side if you don’t actually come into contact with them and get to know them. Once you do that, the scary monsters are revealed to be not so bad.

    I know…I totally crossed the culturekampf streams with that, analogy didn’t I. Sorry, Egon.

    1. Karen Pearson

      Bryan, I am a gun owner. I have no worries about a responsible gun owner. Unfortunately, I’ve met some irresponsible gun owners, and I don’t see anything in this bill that guarantees owner responsibility. A drunken shootout will certainly cost the shooter’s license and more. But that does not help the dead and injured. And it doesn’t have to happen often; only once, especially if that once costs you or one of your loved ones a life.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        You’re right. This bill doesn’t guarantee responsibility. And you’re right about a dead person not being brought back by criminal punishment of the perpetrator. And it doesn’t have to be someone I love to matter. Any loss of life is a tragedy.

        But no law will provide a guarantee of safety. We can’t guarantee safety in life. The only thing we can do is encourage responsibility and discourage irresponsibility. This bill allows business owners to run their businesses the way they want within a framework of rules. This bill allows people who elect to carry the ability to do so in certain locations that allow them to do so.

        But you’re right. There is no perfection.

        1. Bob Amundson

          To paraphrase Franklin (some sources say Jefferson), “Those that prefer safety over freedom, deserve neither.”

  3. Mark Stewart

    It’s a very poorly conceived idea born of people who just have to push the issue. It’s hard to understand the perceived “need” for this bill. It is easier to understand why the legislature would fall for spending the time to pass such nonsense, however.

    Where does it leave the vast majority of people who would rather not be around people who feel incomplete without their firearm on their person?

      1. Mark Stewart

        No, I am most critical of the end result.

        More South Carolinians carrying in public does not instill in me a greater sense of security; however, it does make me more certain that this combination of stupidity will surely lead to avoidable tragedy.

        On the other hand, stand your ground is still the most ill considered firearms related concept. This is just gilding the Lilly.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          This law doesn’t address the number of people who carry very much. It addresses the places that can either choose to allow it or not allow it. If a place likes it’s gun free status, it can keep it’s gun free status.

          What’s not to like?

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Most places have to do that now. Some do, some don’t. Interesting little exercise for everyone here: When you go about your day, look at the places you go.

            Take note of the places do you go that post no CWP, and take note of the ones that don’t post.

          2. Mark Stewart

            Establishments should instead post to the affirmative that concealed firearms are permitted – since most businesses want nothing to do with gun totting visitors.

            Makes far more sense than saying “and this is yet another place that does not want firearms on the premises”. Sort of a majority rules standard…

            Why should I have to clutter up my business’ front door with a silly no guns sticker (same as with a no smoking sign – but then at least you know when someone is smoking)?

            Most landlord leases prohibit firearms within a leased building anyway, btw, as do employment agreements. So saner minds do prevail in other venues.

          3. Bryan Caskey

            “Establishments should instead post to the affirmative that concealed firearms are permitted – since most businesses want nothing to do with gun totting visitors.”

            I’m not sure I agree with that last clause. I think “most businesses” want to sell their goods/services and stay out of anything political, since getting into political issues invariably annoys some of your potential customers one way or the other.

            However, posting is certainly an option if you’re a business owner, but it’s always been an option. Again, remember: There’s nothing stopping all businesses from posting right now, so this isn’t a change from that.

            I would be really interested to see a study done on the percentage of SC businesses that post vs. those that don’t post, and a breakdown of the types of places. (Going to measurabilty of the subject.)

            Do you know whether the places you go during the day post or not? Most people don’t look.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      At home. Cindi’s best point was “why would you go to a place where you feel you need a gun to protect yourself?”

    2. Juan Caruso

      “Where does it leave the vast majority of people who would rather not be around people who feel incomplete without their firearm on their person?” – Mark S.

      “[T]he vast majority of people” might be surprised to learn it leaves them without the efforts of over half of trial attorneys and a ggodly number of female realtors, to mention the obvious.

      1. Juan Caruso

        Correction: ggodly should be goodly in above.

        Amplification: it also leaves “the vast majority” in the unwitting company of felons and evil-doers who should not be carrying guns and obey neither firearms laws nor such signs.

  4. Bob Amundson

    I always enjoy Bryan’s perspecive on issues. We don’t always agree, but his posts are well reasoned and well written.

    I’m ok with the law. I don’t go to bars, and my wife and I will not go to restaurants that do not have signage prohibiting hand guns. I don’t have a problem with others making the choice to patronize restaurants and bars that choose to not prohibit weapons.

    Honestly, I don’t think this law means the Old West “shoot ’em up” mentality will reign in SC; time will tell. If this law does result in an increase in gun violence in bars and restaurants, legislation will be adapted.

    1. Doug Ross

      Each side will use anecdotes to “prove” it is right. The first time a CWP person is involved in a shooting in a bar, it will result in a whole lot of inflammatory rhetoric.

    2. barry

      I don’t go to bars either. I don’t think this law will help or hurt.

      As a CWP holder myself, I’d simply encourage most bars and restaurants to put up the proper signage.

      I rarely carry my gun in any business.

  5. Scout

    I always notice signs that say no concealable weapons allowed because the phrase has always struck me funny. It makes a picture pop in my head of a guy walking in with a giant shotgun out in the open, as if that would be OK. If your gun is small enough to hide it, you can’t bring it – but if it’s not concealable, come on in with it. I know thats not what it means – but that is what I always think of first. That sign never made me feel any safer particularly.

  6. JesseS

    It doesn’t seem particularly smart, but it does feel a bit like a tempest in a tea pot.

    You’d be surprised to see how many people are carrying guns. Generally something small, in a holster on their lower back; easily concealed under blue jeans. Unless you are at someone’s home and the conversation goes to “I picked this up the other day-“, “Oh, really I’ve got an earlier model.”, you’d never know about the gun or even think of it.

    I can’t say I’d think twice about whether or not a business has that sign on their door.

    As far as “If and only if you are caught…” goes, those folks know their name is on a list somewhere. Knowing someone already has your number changes behavior. If it doesn’t, that person shouldn’t own a firearm or have a driver’s license to begin with. Ever go to a bar on Friday/Saturday night? They are crawling with parole officers trawling for violators. All you have to do is shout, “That guy at the bar has a gun and I hear he is on parole!” and just watch the insanity unfold.

    I’m more concerned with CWP Reciprocal and Recognition Agreements. Some states are pretty lax. On top of that, you are now two lists away from questioning, that also changes behavior.

    Like I said, it is pretty dumb (and somebody is going to get hurt), but I’m not going to drag politics into my evening meal.

  7. Silence

    I think it seems like a mixed bag. I agree with Bryan that eliminating the 8 hour CWP class requirement is a bad idea. I like the idea of being able to keep my CW with me in a restaurant, as long as I’m not drinking. I like that the bill will allow me to legally lock my pistol in my vehicle if I do not carry it somewhere. I wish that we’d see a bill allowing open carry in SC.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Silence, you travel to other countries a lot. Can you carry your gun with you there? I’m assuming not, but will be interested to hear if the answer is otherwise.

      Assuming that you can’t carry in those places, you must be accustomed to going unarmed in some rather dicey parts of the world.

      So… does it ever strike you as ironic that you’re going armed at the local Shoney’s or iHOP or wherever, when you’ve come away unscathed when you went unarmed in, say, Central Asia?

      1. Doug Ross

        On a trip to Alaska last August, my brother (retired law enforcement) had his gun tucked away very discreetly. He can carry anywhere pretty much as I understand it. It was nice to know that if a grizzly bear getting pushy, we wouldn’t have to just rely on my screaming like a little girl.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Correct me if I’m wrong, big game hunters, but I suspect that a gun that can be tucked away discreetly would do about as much to stop a grizzly as screaming like a little girl. At least that might frighten him away…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            If you want to stop a grizzly bear, you really don’t want to be using a handgun. You want a rifle. (and a friend with another rifle) If you have to use a handgun, you’re probably going to want at least a .44 Magnum. (the “Dirty Harry” gun)

            If I was going to Alaska and I wanted a “bear pistol” I’d get something chambered in .454 Casull.

            The thing with both of those calibers is that almost every handgun chambered for them — is that those handguns are very large. (We’re talking over a FOOT long) They’re not intended to be concealed. Remember how darn big Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum revolver was?

            Also, Alaska probably allows open carry because it’s significantly different in size, population, culture, and a million other ways from South Carolina. One size doesn’t fit all.

      2. Silence

        I don’t carry here, cause it would be inconvenient. Let’s say that theoretically I had a SC CWP. I still couldn’t carry at work or keep my firearm in my car, since my office is on a military base. So I never bothered to get a CWP, since I’m always either coming or going from work. If I ever felt like I was going to need a firearm, I’d either stay home or just carry anyways.

        Overseas, my previous set of travel orders authorized me to carry a weapon, my current orders do not. It’s inconvenient at best to do so, and I have never felt like the protection afforded would be worth the hassle. Even in Iraq and Afghanistan I didn’t feel the need to carry. When I took fire, it was indirect (rocket/mortar) fire, not small arms fire, so a pistol or even a rifle would not have been helpful. In Iraq and Afghanistan we were required to bring and sometimes wear body armor and helmets, also really inconvenient and burdensome. It’s better just to blend in, use common sense about where you go and what you do, and not to get into trouble.

        The same holds true in South Carolina, of course. But it is still nice to be ABLE to carry if you want to.

    2. Mark Stewart

      I like the idea of walking into a private business and not having to worry about anyone being armed; unless the owner affirmatively permits it of course. But that’s just me I guess.

      I understand the loosening of the law less with regard to carrying a firearm in a vehicle; but on the surface, this seems like a change which will result in even more unintended injuries and harm than the restaurant/bar allowance.

  8. Bryan Caskey

    I *think* there was an open carry bill in the SC Senate last year that either died somewhere along the way or ultimately became this bill. Not sure that will ever happen.

    Open carry is about as far as you can go. Not sure I would go that far.

  9. Norm Ivey

    People who carry concealed weapons don’t worry me, nor do I feel safer knowing they’re around. I just don’t think of it much. I question the wisdom of carrying in bars, but I won’t avoid places without a prohibition. It’s not a significant threat. There are more people with worse judgement driving cars on the same streets I travel.

    While in Arizona (which had the open carry law when I was a kid, and which I doubt ever had any other kind of law concerning carrying guns) this past summer, a man wearing a gun on his hip sat at the table next to us at breakfast one morning. My wife became uneasy about it, but I reassured her that he’s not the one to worry about. I trust people who choose to carry a firearm for protection or for show. It’s the guy stockpiling an arsenal against the black helicopters that concerns me–the one that doesn’t perceive reality the way most of the rest of us do.

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