New Mexico backs concealed handguns in places that serve alcohol

By John Byrne
Monday, February 15, 2010 9:48 EDT
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In a puzzling and little-reported move Friday, New Mexico’s state senate approved a law allowing residents to take concealed guns into restaurants serving wine and beer — in an effort to reduce crime.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. George Munoz, would allow individuals with concealed handgun licenses to take weapons into restaurants serving beer and wine. It would, however, remain illegal to bring concealed weapons into establishments with full liquor licenses.

Munoz said the law “could help reduce crime because people have handguns stolen when they leave them in a vehicle to go into a restaurant,” according to the Associated Press.

The Senate approved the bill 27-to-15. It now goes to the New Mexico House. The House declined to take up the bill last year.

A similar law passed in Tennessee, which allowed residents with handgun permits to be armed in bars and restaurants was struck down by a judge who said it was unconstitutionally vague.

Tennessee chancellor Claudia Bonnyman said the law was “fraught with ambiguity.”

In Tennessee, there’s no legal distinction between bars and restaurants. Prior to the handgun restaurant measure, the state had banned handguns in all locations where alcohol was served. The new law made an exception for restaurants, which legislators defined as”establishments that serve at least one meal on five days per week and that ‘the serving of such meals shall be the principal business conducted.’”

Attorneys argued that because the distinction between restaurants and bars was vague, citizens would be unclear as to whether they’d be violating the law by carrying a gun.

257,000 have registered handgun permits in Tennessee.

The earlier article about Tennessee’s law being struck down can be read at this link.

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