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Concealed Carry in Virginia

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Like many states, Virginia has long had a concealed-carry law, one that permits citizens to carry concealed weapons upon securing a permit from the state. However, for a long time there was a glaring exception to the law: Concealed-carry permit holders were not permitted to carry their weapons into restaurants or bars that served liquor. This meant that people with concealed weapons either had to leave their guns at home or in their car or ignore the law and hope they didn’t get caught.

About a year ago, the law was changed. People can now carry concealed weapons into restaurants and other establishments that serve liquor but are precluded from drinking alcohol while carrying their concealed weapon.

Needless to say, statists fiercely opposed the bill when it was being debated, predicting that there would be all sorts of murders or massacres that would inevitably take place in Virginia’s restaurants and bars.

Those dire predictions have proven to be baseless. If there have been any murders committed in restaurants or bars by concealed-carry permit owners since the change in the law, I haven’t heard of them. And there certainly haven’t been any massacres.

What the change in the law has done is permit people to defend themselves from would-be murderers. That’s what statists just don’t get. They assume that because there is a gun-control law that, say, prohibits people from carrying a gun into a bar or restaurant, a murderer is going to comply with the law.

That’s ridiculous. If a murderer is going to violate a law against murder, why would he care about obeying a gun-control law? Is he really going to say, “Golly, I can’t commit this murder with a gun because possession of a gun is against the law”? Of course not. If he’s going to murder someone, he’s going to have no reservations about violating some gun-control law. After all, just look Washington, D.C., the gun-control capital of the United States and the murder capital of the world, where murders are committed with guns all the time, in violation of D.C.’s strict gun-control laws.

What about innocent, peaceful, law-abiding people? They’re likely to comply with gun-control laws. Most of them don’t want to chance a felony or misdemeanor conviction on their record, along with possible jail time and all the lawyer fees that have to be incurred in defending against a criminal prosecution.

What gun-control laws do is render peaceful and law-abiding people defenseless against murderers and other violent people. By disarming the innocent would-be victim, the law prevents him from defending himself from murderers who enter the restaurant or bar and start shooting everyone.

Today in Virginia, it’s an entirely different story. People in restaurants and bars are now free to defend themselves against would-be murderers. Moreover, everyone who now is eating in a Virginia restaurant or bar is safer than he was before the law was enacted. That includes statists who favor gun control and opposed the change in the law.

The reason is that would-be murderers must now factor in the possibility that one or more people in the restaurant or bar are carrying a concealed weapon and know how to use it. So, there’s a better chance that the would-be murderer will avoid selecting restaurants and bars for his mayhem. Why select a place where people can fire back as compared to a place where they can’t. It’s not a coincidence that massacres occur at places like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Ft. Hood, as compared to, say, gun shows.

Of course, the ideal is where everyone is free to carry concealed weapons without a permit from the state. Why should anyone have to ask the government’s permission to exercise a fundamental, God-given right? Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that concealed-carry laws do make society safer by enabling peaceful and law-abiding people to defend themselves and their families against murderers, rapists, robbers, and the like.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.