Illinois restaurant owners faced with concealed carry decisions
January 16, 2014
More than 4,500 Illinoisans applied for concealed carry permits on Jan. 5, the first day of public access, as Illinois joined the nation in legalizing concealed carry, according to the Illinois State Police. Similarly, Illinois businesses now have the chance to respond to the new legislation.
Restaurants have the option to bar guns from their establishments, a decision especially important to ones that serve alcohol.
“You’re picking and choosing customers because if you choose to allow it, you’re going to offend the people that are anti-gun. And if you choose to not allow it, you’re going to offend the people that do have a permit,” said Dean Hazen, owner of The Gun Experts, a gun store in Urbana. “So pick your poison, you can’t make everybody happy.”
Guns are prohibited from businesses in which 50 percent of revenue comes from the sale of alcohol, according to the legislation. But at Guido’s in Champaign, general manager Roy Moore said its alcohol revenue varies from year to year.
“That’s what makes it difficult, justifying each year whether or not we’re labeled as a bar or restaurant,” Moore said. “Either way, we’re not going to allow weapons in here just because of the fact that come later on in the night … everybody’s switched moods from restaurant to bar.”
Moore added that “guns and alcohol don’t mix,” a point that University Police Department Deputy Chief Skip Frost agrees with.
“The first thing that alcohol affects is your decision making,” Frost said. “I completely understand what would turn out to be a pushing or shoving match in a bar … if you allow concealed weapons in there, that pushing and shoving match may become a gun fight.”
Businesses that choose to not allow guns are required to post a sign provided by the state, Hazen said. The sign, which shows a handgun surrounded by a red circle and a diagonal slash, can be downloaded from the Illinois State Police website.
“If the first thing that alcohol affects is your decision making, let’s face it,” Frost said. “Someone that has had too much to drink or is under the influence is not someone that we want carrying a concealed weapon.”
Brittney can be reached at [email protected]