While Missouri’s conceal-and-carry legislation discourages mixing firearms with alcohol, owners of Columbia bars and restaurants are trying to figure out what impact the law —on hold due to an injunction— would have on their businesses if enacted.
The law would prohibit people from carrying a concealed weapon into a business that receives the majority of its income from alcohol sales. However, the law also allows an establishment’s management to essentially waive that provision and grant people the right to carry. The law also allows people to keep weapons in cars parked on the premises of bars and restaurants that sell alcohol.
There are no restrictions to the conceal-and-carry law for restaurants that receive the majority of its revenue from food sales.
But John Sevcik, co-owner of CJ’s, 704 E. Broadway, said that while his business only makes a small portion of its profits from alcohol sales, he will post signs from the Missouri Restaurant Association barring guns. However, he doesn’t plan to take any specific steps, such as searching his customers, to enforce the prohibition.
“I don’t think there are going to be any problems at restaurants,” Sevcik said. “There may be problems at bars, places that have problems anyway.”
Kurt Elliff, manager of Old Chicago, a restaurant on 1710 I-70 Drive SW., said he has no plans to post signs asking patrons to leave their guns in their cars. Old Chicago has 26 establishments in Colorado, which has allowed concealed guns for years, Eliff said. No problems have been reported, although the company’s policy prohibits employees from carrying concealed weapons on the job.
“Honestly, I was told there is more of a problem with boycotts and such when a restaurant bans guns,” he said.
Concerns about the new law are slightly greater among those whose primary business is selling alcohol. Mike Geiss, co-owner and manager of Big 12, a bar adjacent to MU’s campus, said he is worried about guns being brought on the premises, although he doesn’t plan to beef up security.
“There could be guns in people’s cars now and I wouldn’t know,” he said.
Willie’s Pub and Pool, 1109 E. Broadway, will ban concealed guns from its property, said manager Cedar Bergen, although he isn’t sure a specific prohibition will make much difference.
“It’s going to take everyone acting responsibly,” he said.
Many of Columbia’s bar and restaurant owners seem more afraid of increases in their liability insurance rates once the new law goes into effect. While that hasn’t happened yet, David Tye, manager of By George, 63 E. Broadway, said, “You never know with insurance companies.”
Richard King, owner of The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth St., agreed that the new law will lead to an increase in premiums for bar owners.
“I’m sure they will,” he said.