GASTON COUNTY, NC- A new North Carolina law that takes effect October 1 expands the places where permit holders can pack heat.
The gun rights law, signed by Governor Pat McCrory in July, allows firearms at parades, funerals public parks and in locked cars at any public school or college.
Guns will also be allowed inside bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Local bars are hunkering down before the new law kicks in. Owners are posting signs and sticking with their no-tolerance policy – despite what the law says.
“Alcohol and guns do not mix,” said Debra Vick, co-owner of The Rock House in Gastonia.
No if, ands or buts about it – packing heat at the rock house in Gastonia is not allowed.
“You can actually kill someone and that’s not good for business,” said Vick.
Not one, but two “No Weapon” signs are posted at the bar and restaurant. The signs are up ahead of a new state gun law that will allow legal permit holders to carry a concealed firearm into bars and restaurants that serve.
The new law does have a zero-tolerance rule that says anyone that does bring a concealed carry inside a bar cannot drink alcohol.
But Vick says it’s not a risk her establishment is willing to take.
“If it’s concealed, you don’t know who has one because you can’t keep eyes on a capacity of 500 people. There’s just no way,” said Vick.
Some customers say the new law is a shift in the right direction. They want to be able to protect themselves – even in a bar.
“If you’ve been certified and you have a concealed weapons permit, you should be able to carry it,” said Ric Shelberg, a Gastonia restaurant.
But local bar owners say packing heat puts customers and staff at risk.
“Shooting randomly at someone they’re having problems with. You don’t know who that bullets going to hit or where it’s going to fly,” said Vick.
The new law also imposes tougher penalties for those who violate gun laws and seals gun purchase and permit records so that names, addresses and other identifying information – are no longer public record.