Report: Gun crimes drop at Virginia bars and restaurants

by Chad D. Baus

In the days before concealed carry became the law of the land in Ohio, opponents like the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence's Toby Hoover decried the proposed law, claiming that "If we have more use of guns, then we're going to have more people who are injured and die," and that "A person who has a gun sees danger. We will have more shootings, more accidents."

During the debate over Ohio's Castle Doctrine legislation, Hoover asked "what if a 12 year-old Girl Scout and her mother go up to someone's door, and the homeowner shoots them?", warning that "The bill would allow gun carriers to shoot first, claiming self-defense anywhere they are. Be careful how you appear to others, as you might be perceived as a threat."

Those warnings were proven 100% false. But that hasn't stopped the same gun ban extremists from making the same claims each and every time Buckeye Firearms Association has worked to improve gun laws in Ohio even further.

Most recently, anti-Second Amendment rights groups sounded their "Chicken Little" alarms about Ohio's Restaurant Carry legislation.

"I am sure those who want to do this will claim they will never drink and they won't when they are carrying their guns," Hoover told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "But people who carry guns everyday say they will never misuse them, and they do. And then there's always the fact that someone next to them can even take their gun and use it."

Hoover also told WTOL, Toledo's CBS affiliate, that "If I am going to take my children and my family to a restaurant then I don't want to be sitting next to people that are carrying guns."

But as a new report from Virginia shows, Hoover is going to be much LESS likely to be made the victim of a major crime in a restaurant or bar once this law takes effect on September 30.

From The Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Virginia's bars and restaurants did not turn into shooting galleries as some had feared during the first year of a new state law that allows patrons with permits to carry concealed guns into alcohol-serving businesses, a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis found.

The number of major crimes involving firearms at bars and restaurants statewide declined 5.2 percent from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, compared with the fiscal year before the law went into effect, according to crime data compiled by Virginia State Police at the newspaper's request.

And overall, the crimes that occurred during the law's first year were relatively minor, and few of the incidents appeared to involve gun owners with concealed-carry permits, the analysis found.

A total of 145 reported crimes with guns occurred in Virginia bars and restaurants in fiscal 2010-11, or eight fewer than the 153 incidents in fiscal 2009-10. State police track all murders, non-negligent manslaughters, aggravated assaults, forcible sex crimes and robberies in more than two dozen categories, including "bars/nightclubs" and "restaurants."

The article goes on to note that the while Virginia law forbids concealed carry permit holders to drink alcohol while they are inside bars and restaurants with guns hidden from view, patrons who legally carry firearms openly into bars and restaurants can drink freely.

Philip Van Cleave, president of the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League, is quoted as saying that "The numbers basically just confirm what we've said would happen if the General Assembly changed the law. It's sort of a big yawn. So from my point of view, none of this is surprising."

"Keep in mind," Van Cleave added, "what the other side was saying — that this was going to be a blood bath, that restaurants will be dangerous and people will stop going. But there was nothing to base the fear-mongering on."

Van Cleave told The Times-Dispatch that he believes he and other supporters of the law deserve an apology — especially those who "screamed the end of the world was coming with this."

"At some point," Van Cleave said, "it would be nice to have some of them admit that they were wrong, that they didn't see any of the horrible things that they thought were going to happen."

It would be nice indeed. But just as Van Cleave will never see that type of candidness from his opponents in Virginia, it is clear from Toby Hoover's past behavior that no such admissions will be forthcoming in Ohio any time soon, even when our Restaurant Carry law proves to be just as effective.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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