Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed legislation allowing “concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded handguns” into establishments that serve alcohol. The law allows permit holders to carry guns in restaurants, “as long as the holders do not consume alcohol.” A leading Virginia gun lobby is now arguing that the law unfairly stigmatizes gun carriers as second-class citizens because there is an exception that “allows law-enforcement officers and commonwealth’s attorneys to carry concealed weapons and consume alcohol.” Philip Van Cleave, leader of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, complained, “We’re not allowed to drink, but they (law enforcement officials) can. … That’s two classes of citizens.” But Van Cleave has a solution:
Van Cleave said one proposed bill would allow no one but an on-duty officer doing undercover work to drink alcohol while carrying a concealed weapon. The other bill will say that anyone can carry a concealed gun and drink if they wish, “as long as they are not drunk.”
“Whatever the General Assembly assumes will apply to everyone,” he said. “Police officers and permit holders are all in the same tent; so I say: General Assembly, you choose. But whatever it is, we’re equal.”
In a letter to McDonnell on behalf of the state’s police chiefs, Virginia Beach Police Chief Jake Jacocks, Jr. opposed the new law, arguing: “We can fully expect that at some point in the future a disagreement that today would likely end up in a verbal confrontation, or a bar fight, will inevitably end up with gunfire if you sign this legislation into law.” The chances of that happening would only increase if the Virginia gun lobby has its way.