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by Brian Clarey

The top problems the state faces lie in employment, education and budget issues. But the NC House is more concerned for the time being with our rights and our safety.

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but the NC House is gravely concerned about the safety of you and your family. Gravely concerned.

Which is why last week the legislative body voted 74-42 in favor of House Bill 111, which allows holders of concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons in public parks, restaurants and — yes — even bars.

Forget for a moment that our state government voted to outlaw smoking in NC bars and restaurants because of fears for the safety of workers and patrons, because if you try to square the logic your head just might explode. Just remember that cigarettes are evil, even if your family relied on tobacco money for generations, and guns are good — so good that any secondary health detriments, like, say, getting shot, are negligible in the quest for safety.

That’s how the bill is pitched in the soon-to-be-named piece of legislature: “an act to allow persons with concealed handgun permits to protect themselves and their families in restaurants and to allow a concealed handgun permittee to carry a handgun in a park.”

You may not have thought that our restaurants and state parks were such dangerous places, but that’s probably because you haven’t been paying attention. Here in the Triad, we have gunplay in area restaurants and bars just about every week.

Winston-Salem police Sgt. Mickey Hutchins was murdered in the parking lot of a Bojangles in 2009.

In Greensboro, after a high-profile shooting on a downtown street, nightlife-oriented businesses instituted new measures to prevent people from coming inside with guns: wandings, friskings, cursory searches and the like.

There are more examples, of course, because we don’t have a crime problem or a violence problem or a nightlife security problem. We have a gun problem, and the problem is that too many people have guns and insist on bringing them everywhere they go.

Of course, the reaction to this stance is all too predictable: How are we supposed to protect ourselves from the bad people with guns unless we bring our own to the party? Follow it with a chorus of Second Amendment/ Second Amendment/ Second Amendment. And then make the spurious claim that more guns actually mean less crime!

We’re not buying any of it, and we doubt that the families of shooting victims are having it either.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate and then cross the governor’s desk before it becomes law. But even money says it will eventually pass.

Thankfully, it is still illegal to drink alcohol while carrying a weapon, but before this legislative session is over, maybe our elected officials can take care of that infringement of our rights as well.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration

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