Arizona restaurants are finding themselves in the middle of a new gun rights law taking effect July 29th. The new law allows anyone over 21 to carry a firearm concealed or in the open, "as long as the person is not a prohibited possessor, such as a felon or a visitor or student from another country." Additionally, private businesses are allowed to dictate whether or not firearms are welcome in their establishments.
The law is requiring restaurant owners to choose sides in the gun rights debate. Many owners do not want customers carrying firearms in their establishments for multiple reasons, oftentimes at the top of the list is the safety of their employees and the comfort of their other customers. Gloria DiCenco, a customer at Beyond Bread in Tuscon, admitted "[she] found it was pretty hard to have fun and joke in a room where there's a large group of people who are heavily armed."
However, many restaurants in AZ are experiencing immediate boycotts when they display the "No Firearms Allowed" signs. The website GunBurger.com
, "A Nationwide State-by-State Database Of Pro & Anti RKBA Restaurants & Stores," pressures gun rights activists to learn what restaurants don't allow customers with their guns and then boycott. The Hungry Fox, a busy diner in Tuscon, put up a "no guns allowed"sign only to learn that many of their customers were concealed weapons carriers. The restaurant had to reverse the policy.
"We were going to lose a lot of customers, and we can't afford to lose even one," said Dene Little, the restaurant's manager.
Key Points of Arizona Gun Laws, courtesy of Arizona Daily Star:
• Guns in businesses: Arizona law does not explicitly permit or prohibit firearms in private businesses. But carrying a firearm into a private business might be considered trespassing if the business is clearly marked with a sign forbidding guns, especially if the gun carrier is asked not to enter while armed.
• Guns in bars: Establishments where alcohol is sold may permit firearms, but a person carrying a firearm in such a business may not consume alcohol. If the owner wishes to ban firearms, a sign with a specific design, wording and placement must be posted. The sign is available for downloading at the website of the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, azliquor.gov/firearms.html
• Carrying a gun: As of July 29, anyone over 21 in Arizona may carry a gun, concealed or in the open, as long as the person is not a prohibited possessor, such as a felon or a visitor or student from another country.
• Where guns are prohibited: State law explicitly prohibits guns in certain places, most notably any posted government office, from the lowliest municipal building to the state Capitol, although they are now required to offer storage. Carrying a firearm is also prohibited on school grounds, at election polling places, and at hydroelectric or nuclear plants.