Updated Sat, Oct 1, 2011 11:28 am
Ohioans with concealed-carry permits can now take their firearms into bars and other facilities where alcohol is served and consumed.
Senate Bill 17 took effect on Friday and expands lawful carry of licensed firearm. The bill limits permit holders from drinking alcohol while in a bar or restaurant with their weapon.
Individual businesses reserve the right to prohibit firearms in their establishment by posting a sign that gives notice.
Bar owners in Athens are reacting and addressing the law differently.
Tom VanDyke, owner of The Pub on Court Street, said he will not allow firearms in his bar. "It's was a no-brainer for me to not let [weapons] in. It's nothing I would have even considered."
The owner intends to post a sign that notifies bar patrons of the rule.
While individuals with permits are not supposed to drink when bringing a weapon into a bar or restaurant, VanDyke expressed concern about enforcing this portion of the law.
"We've seen a lot of people who say that they are designated drivers and yet, they end up drinking. Therefore, it's possible for a person who is carrying a weapon to think they are not going to drink, but then start to consume alcohol because of peer pressure," he said.
Woody Rouse, a manager at Buffalo Wild Wings in Athens, agrees.
"Anytime you're mixing a deadly weapon with a place that's serving alcohol, there's a lot of risk," Rouse said.
Buffalo Wild Wings, Pawpurrs, Pigskin, and several other establishments in Athens said they will not allow firearms in their bars.
Other bars, such as the Smiling Skull Saloon on Union Street, have not decided how they will react to the law.
"I prefer that they don't bring their guns in [my bar], but I understand it's their right to do that," said Smiling Skull Saloon owner Chris Wolf. " I think we will probably handle it on a case by case basis. I'm not here all the time and we mainly have female bartenders, so if some inebriated customer comes in with a gun, we haven't really discussed how they might handle that. "
Not all Athens bar owners are concerned about the law. In fact, some say they'll allow the weapons into their establishment. These bars include but are not limited to Lucky's Tavern and PawPurrs on Court Street.
Prior to Senate Bill 17, bar and restaurant patrons with concealed-carry permits were required to leave their weapons behind in their vehicles when entering a bar or restaurant where alcohol is present.