In your book you mention "if you go into a restaurant you can’t go in the bar or even walk thru the bar." Many restaurants (Outback) now days have "bar areas" that are not devoted primarily to serving alcohol. To be clear, I’m talking about booths and high tops in the bar area that are more like any other part of the restaurant. For instance:
They are often times seated by the hostess, kids are regularly seated in these areas, full meals are served here, and they are even non-smoking. When I look around most people are primarily ordering meals, not alcohol, and it appears that food service is certainly over 50%. So, I would think this sort of bar would not be excluded to CWL carry. And for walking thru the area, what if walking thru is necessary to get to your table in a non-bar area, or to get to a bathroom? Shouldn’t being in a "common area" mean it is not a "bar area".
OK, good question, and here’s my answer – and of course, it’s pure opinion because there is no current case law, plus – it really could be argued either way if you add certain constitutional issues and rules of "lenity" in law:
Answer; The statute says:
"Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose" It doesn't say "exact area or exact place" -- it says "portion".
Based on the normal meaning of "portion", and normal meaning of "bar area", I think anywhere in the actual "bar area" is within its "portion" even if that also equally is used for food service, or even "primarily" for food service. Same for walking thru a bar area. Anything else is a legal risk.
But, would I personally carry in such a situation – especially in a place like the Outback?
If it was night time -- probably. But, I wouldn't be starting out with the intention of being in the "bar area". It would just be that I somehow wound up there, and was pretty confident nothing would happen.
Well, as a practical matter vs. legal -- I just don't think it matters much unless someone knows you have it, or you broadcast it. The risk of any issue coming up in most restaurants, or being found out, is minimal to zero. Plus, while an armed robbery, terrorist incident, or mental meltdown could possibly go down inside, the real danger (to me) is the parking lot at night. So, leaving my firearm in the vehicle is not my idea of a smart idea -- although, quite frankly -- I personally would try to avoid ever being in any "bar area" other than as a "walk thru". But, on the other hand, if temper type problems will happen -- my bet is it will usually start in the bar. So, again, another reason to avoid it.
Likewise, if I have a CWL and firearm on me, I'm gonna pass on getting involved in ANYTHING other than an armed robbery or something where life is actually in serious, imminent risk. Anything less is just asking for later trouble. Maybe, if I also had a non-lethal weapon I'd consider it -- but if you get involved -- I guarantee the cops will respond, and if you are not a "certified hero" because you saved someone's life -- testy questions will likely arise as to what you were doing in the "bar area" with a firearm. A situation I don't want to be in.
So, that's the analysis on my part. However, while I'll do everything to avoid it -- if the place is primarily a restaurant, and I have to "walk thru" a bar area to get to my table or rest room -- I'll personally take that risk. I think almost anyone would understand that situation, and would give you the greatest leeway in a legal argument -- although I once again say -- avoid it if you can, as the smart legal interpretation is not in your favor.
Posted by Jon H. Gutmacher