State Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-92nd) voted Wednesday in favor of a bill to legalize licensed gun holders bringing their firearms into bars, restaurants and open-air arenas, one of only three Democrats in the Ohio House to do so.
While it awaits its approval of the Ohio Senate, the bill already has started a swarm of controversy both around the state and in Athens.
The Ohio Restaurant Association sent a letter to Rep. Bob Mecklenborg, Chairman of House State Government and Elections Committee, to express its disapproval of the bill and urge the Senate not to sign it into law.
The letter to Mecklenborg, written by Director of Government Affairs Richard Mason, stated how the association appreciates and understands the legislation but feels there is no conclusive evidence that the current laws are not working.
“We simply feel that alcohol and guns are not a good mix,” Mason wrote. “We encourage you to vote against this or any proposal that would allow guns in restaurants with liquor permits.”
The bill restricts gun holders from consuming or being under the influence of alcohol while in any of these venues, as well as lets owners of these venues to choose whether they will allow firearms into their businesses.
Jarrod Clabaugh, a spokesman for the association, said if this bill passes, it is just going to be another requirement for small businesses.
“We have 2,400 members (in the association) and the majority of them are small business owners,” Clabaugh said. “They would just have to go the extra mile, yet again, to put up a sign that says, ‘no fire arms allowed.’”
Sheriff Pat Kelly announced his disapproval of the bill, stating he was disappointed a bill like this passed.
“While I am a strong supporter of the second amendment, I am very disappointed as were many Sheriffs, that the Ohio House passed (the bill),” Kelly said.
Phillips was unavailable for comment.