- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2011

Whether it’s the economy or gun control, liberals rarely consider the consequences of their misguided schemes. President Obama wants more “investment” spending to help the economy even though his nearly $1 trillion in supposed stimulus did nothing to reduce unemployment. Keynesian economics didn’t work under Franklin D. Roosevelt or Jimmy Carter, either, but the left refuses to learn the lesson. Now we know that gun-grabber complaints about concealed-carry in bars and restaurants are nonsense too.

Earlier this month, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reviewed Virginia State Police records and found the number of firearms-related crimes committed in establishments that serve alcohol dropped 5 percent a year after concealed-carry permit holders could legally pack heat while out on the town. There were 145 gun crimes reported in taverns and eateries a year after the law took effect, compared with 153 before. The Times-Dispatch could only identify a single permit holder who had misbehaved, though gun charges later were dropped against that person.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Gun owners tend to be law-abiding members of their communities. Allowing concealed-carry at the local watering hole did nothing to change that. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police worked overtime to defeat restaurant carry, urging Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto the bill in March of last year. “Allowing guns in bars is a recipe for disaster,” Virginia Beach Police Chief Jake Jacocks Jr. wrote. “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 with gunfire if you sign this legislation into law.” The shootouts never happened.

Chief Jacocks said in his letter that he didn’t presume to interpret the Second Amendment but that he knew it would be irresponsible to allow “anyone other than a law enforcement officer” to carry a handgun in a bar. Allowing people other than police to protect themselves with firearms is exactly what the right to keep and bear arms is all about. When Mr. Obama took office, the public flocked to gun stores, fearing the imposition of new gun-control measures. Despite the unprecedented number of new gun owners, FBI crime statistics showed violent crime decreased 5.5 percent nationwide between 2010 and 2009. In Virginia’s major cities, the drop was 9 percent.

The arguments of the gun-control crowd are like an annoying barfly that needs to be sent home. Expanding the rights of lawful gun owners makes everyone safer.