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Virginia Restaurant Law

One thing I hate about carrying in Virginia is the stupid restaurant ban.  You can’t carry into any place that’s licensed to serve alcohol while concealing your weapon, even if you don’t intend to order a drink.  If you want, you can go all VCDL and unconceal it, but I’m pretty sure that would get me kicked out of a lot of the restaurants in Alexandria.

Contrast to Pennsylvania where you can carry into restaurants and bars.  You can even belly up to the bar and order a beer while carrying.  Not that I recommend carrying while intoxicated, but the law makes the presumption that people are going to be reasonable; I like that.

So how about it Virginia?   Can we get rid of this crap?   Probably not, because the meme will be “The NRA and VCDL want drunks to carry.” which is crap, but that’ll be the meme.   There’s also the fools at the other NRA, the National Restaurant Association, who will come out against it.  So perhaps we can at least restructure the law here.   How about off limits violations are a summary offense rather than the current penalty, which I believe is carrying without a license?   Or go the Missouri route, and make violation no penalty at all, but getting caught more than once puts your license at risk.   To me, these all seem to be reasonable alternatives if you can’t outright eliminate the restaurant ban.

Virginia’s carry laws are pretty good except for the restaurant thing.   Certainly better than a lot of other southern states, who have overly restrictive off-limits places.  Tennessee, for instance, bans carry in all parks and National and State Forests, which seems highly silly.  Or Georgia, which has a general public gathering exception.  Or the various southern states which prohibit carry into polling places.  Come on guys, you can’t let a bunch of damned Yankees beat you on this one ;)

10 Responses to “Virginia Restaurant Law”

  1. Matt says:

    Sebastian,

    The law is clear in VA. If you are in a place that serves alcohol (that includes places like Chipotle which you wouldn’t think it would but they serve beer), you must unconceal.

    It doesn’t flipping matter what the restaurants in Alexandria think. Unconceal your gun and don’t draw attention to it. I’ve open carried in many restaurants in Virginia with nary a peep. Don’t let it bother you. Fairfax County officers at this point know the law with regards to open carry in such places and for the most part they won’t hassle you.

    You might get some wide-eyed stares from the sheep. Forget them. I’ve learned in carrying my gun is none of their business if they have a problem with it, they are going to have to get involved. Most won’t and will simply assume you’re a cop and/or licensed to carry (which you are). I have been questioned by a patron once while carrying. Heck, I’ve open carried in restaurants in Fairfax City with police officers in the restaurant who saw me carrying (and my friend, we were both armed). Nothing more than a glance. We were following the law to the letter.

    At worst, the restaurant asks you to leave. So leave and go somewhere else. Don’t worry yourself much about it. I did when I first had to do it. After a few times, I forget the gun is there.

    I won’t hide and slither in the shadows, trying to avoid being seen armed by the sheep. I have the right and I choose to exercise it. People need to learn that such things are none of their business as long as you aren’t breaking the law and the one time I was questioned, I made that point clear to the liberal who piped up. I merely stated, “No, I am not a police officer. I am a private citizen and the law says I can carry openly. Have a nice night.” and left.

    Open carry, sir, and don’t sweat it.

  2. Robb Allen says:

    Here in the Gunshine state, you cannot sit at the bar. You can sit at the table directly next to the bar, just not the bar itself.

    Unfortunately, this situation has “made” me more than any other. I’ve met friends for drinks and I have to tell them “Sorry guys, legally I’m not allowed to sit at the bar”. Then I have to explain why.

    Then again, if I bend over and tie my shoe and my piece shows, I’m now a felon. I think if a state requires licencesure for concealed, open carry should be automatically assumed.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Texas has that weird open carry restriction too. Add that to the list of things I don’t get.

  4. AMCer says:

    Texas’ restriction is on establishments that have 51% of their sales off of alcohol. You can conceal carry into a restaurant just not a bar. Either way, you CAN NOT open carry anywhere (except for private property) unless you are a Peace Officer.

  5. Michael says:

    Virginia, Georgia is just as bad with resturant carry. We tried,but it failed several times to get to the floor,but in never made it out of committee. It really puts a damper on going out to eat with the wife.

  6. My understanding is that not unconcealing in VA is just a trespassing charge. If you don’t unconceal…they’ll never know. I like open carrying, but it’s just not a fight worth picking.

  7. countertop says:

    This isn’t legal advice at all, but I think the other Sebastian is right. There is a State ttorney General opinion out somewhere – check VCDL site – that makes it clear there isn’t really a penalty attached to concealed carry – only the fact that it is essentially trespassing.

    Of course, concealed is concealed.

    and if someone notices that your carrying concealed, well then thats not concealed carry (thats not legal advice either, just pointing out the obvious).

  8. Indiana has no such restrictions.

  9. william wynn says:

    Can I carry a weapon in a restaurant that serves alcohol if I have a license to carry a concealed weapon in Georgia, like Applebees or hooters?

  10. Sebastian says:

    Nope. If the premise is license to serve alcohol, you can’t carry carry there under Georgia law.

    See http://handgunlaw.us

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