|March 12, 2009, 09:30 PM||#1|
Join Date: July 2, 2007
A dim light at the end of the tunnel
Senate: Guns, liquor OK in restaurants
By The Associated Press
Posted: 03/12/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT
SANTA FE — New Mexicans carrying concealed handguns could legally go into restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages under a bill that passed the Senate on Wednesday.
The legislation, supported by the National Rifle Association, was approved over the objections of lawmakers who said guns and liquor don't mix, especially in family restaurants.
The bill passed on a vote of 26-15 and went to the House.
Its sponsor, Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, said people who are licensed to carry concealed weapons don't want to leave their guns in their vehicles in parking lots, where they could be stolen.
"This is to prevent firearms from getting in the hands of people who are criminals," Munoz said.
Under his proposal, it would remain illegal to carry concealed handguns into bars. But it would be OK to take them into establishments with liquor licenses that derive more than half of their revenue from the sale of food.
Supporters of the bill said law-abiding citizens with concealed handguns wouldn't cause problems.
"We're talking about food places — not get-drunk, fall-down, fight places," said Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington.
New Mexicans with concealed carry permits should be able to protect themselves no matter where they are, he also said.
"If something happens ... They're trained, they're licensed, they're ready," Sharer said.
Opponents said guns in restaurants where drinking is going on would increase the likelihood of dangerous accidents.
"Too many things happen when people are drinking," said Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.