Warning: Don’t Let Your Legislator Play with Guns

We’ve all enjoyed a good laugh at the bull-testicles bill, but nothing strikes me as more mock-worthy than the debate over the right to carry concealed weapons in restaurants. Surely, people must have something better to worry about!

I don’t own a gun, never have and never will. But I don’t get exercised about other people who do — unless they’re convicted felons, of course, or their last name is Cho. The Swiss are armed to the teeth. Every male of military age is enrolled in the national guard and stores a semi-automatic weapon in his home. But I would feel safe in Switzerland. The Swiss have a culture in which people control their emotions (in stark contrast to a United States steeped in an impulsive, Jerry Springeresque, show-us-how-you-really-feel culture where it’s considered unhealthy to repress one’s rage); as a consequence, there are very few murders in cities like Zurich and Geneva. By contrast, the Hutus didn’t need guns to massacre tens of thousands of Tutsis — they used machetes.

Even though I subscribe to the theory that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, I just can’t get exercised about the prospect of guns in restaurants — or guns banned from restaurants. Either way, I really don’t care.

But The Virginian-Pilot decided to take the concealed-weapons-in-restaurants bill seriously. In a story today, reporter Richard Quinn quoted Mike Standing, owner of the Waterman’s Surfside Grille and a gun owner himself: “Why would somebody want to have a gun in a restaurant? In case the crab legs came alive and got angry?”

Yuk, yuk! Pretty funny. Why would someone want to bring a gun into a restaurant… unless his name was Guido?

But then we hear from Del. Harvey Morgan, R-Gloucester: “I’ve been waiting for this bill for years. I thought it was absolutely insane for someone who was legally carrying a firearm to find a way to dispose of it to get a bite to eat.”

Morgan has been waiting for years? Kinda makes you wonder. Does ol’ Harvey pack heat? He sure sounds like someone who speaks from experience. But, yeah, I can see his point of view. You carry around a hidden gun all day, and then you want a bite to eat. What a pain, you’ve got to take the gun out of the holster and hide it in the back trunk of your car. It might take all of… 20 seconds. What a cruel hardship! I’m weeping with empathy.

Next, we hear from Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, who says, “Guns and alcohol don’t mix. They lead to trouble.” Sure, that makes sense. Just one little problem: The bill says you can bring a gun into bars and restaurants — but only if you don’t drink. Kinda takes the fun out of going to a bar, but, hey, the no-drinking restriction would seem to make McClellan’s concern… what’s the phrase I’m looking for? … totally irrelevant.

Finally, we hear from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine: “My strong feeling, has been that bars and Pizza Huts where families go to have pizza with their kids, that more weapons in those places does not lead to public safety.” Ay, yi, yi. Why do we have to drag “the children” into this? Well, there’s no turning back now. Let’s dissect this. Ol’ Harvey walks into a Pizza Hut with his wife and grandchildren. He’s packing heat. Is he going to be any more dangerous in a restaurant than he would be, say, strolling through the mall? Give me a break.

Something about guns renders their friends and foes barking mad. Maybe we should amend the bill to ban legislators, on either side of the issue, from ever talking about the topic.

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