Is it really legal to carry weapons in bars?

One question I’ve been hearing more lately in the wake of recent shootings at bars, nightclubs and music festivals is whether its legal to carry a concealed weapon into those places for protection. As usual with these questions, the answer is “it varies”.

While alcohol and firearms don’t mix, there are plenty of people who go to concerts, shows and other venues where alcohol is served without drinking. Designated drivers immediately come to mind. How each state addresses these situations is influenced by several types of laws.

Many US States allow sober individuals to carry weapons into places that serve alcohol. While ATLAS doesn’t actively follow those laws yet, other sources claim only 16 states prohibit anyone from carrying a gun in a bar or club. But this doesn’t mean the other 34 states plus DC require such places to allow weapons inside.

Additionally, there are 21 states where the laws clearly state that any signs posted by businesses stating firearms are banned from the premises carry the force of law. The penalties vary from only being expelled from the premises to hefty jail terms and the specifics on the signs themselves do as well, but in these states it is legal to ban guns on site, whether carried openly or concealed.

Combined, these two types of laws mean that in 28 states plus DC it is likely to be illegal to carry a gun somewhere that serves alcohol. In the other 22 states, just because it isn’t necessarily an automatic crime doesn’t mean you can’t be asked to leave. If you are asked to leave, whether because you are carrying a gun or any other reason, staying on the premises can result in trespassing charges.

So if you’re in Alabama, Colorado, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia or West Virginia you may be allowed to take guns into bars and clubs. Cities often impose additional restrictions on firearm possession so make sure you check local ordinances before carrying anywhere that serves alcohol.

Even if you happen to be somewhere that carrying on the premise of a liquor licensee is completely legal always remember to stay sober and respect the wishes of the property owners or tenants! It's never a good idea to appear aggressive when armed and facing people who uncomfortable with that fact.