A new bill expanding the rights of concealed carriers in South Carolina to come in line with many other states in the region is heading to Governor Nikki Haley’s desk to be signed into law:

With Gov. Nikki Haley’s signature, South Carolinians licensed to carry concealed firearms will be able to carry guns into bars and restaurants as long as they do not drink.

The S.C. House passed a bill Thursday to allow concealed weapons in restaurants by a 90-18 vote, sending the bill to Haley’s desk. Passage of the bill is an expansion of gun rights that had been sought for years by 2nd Amendment advocates.

“Governor Haley has and will always be a supporter of open-carry laws, and will sign any bill that doesn’t restrict the rights of gun owners,” said spokesman Doug Mayer.

The bill would allow people licensed to carry concealed weapons to take their guns into businesses that serve alcohol as long as they do not drink. Businesses also could decide not to allow firearms on their property by posting signs.

A few House members, including state Rep. Walt McLeod, D-Newberry, stalled a vote on the bill Thursday.

McLeod, who voted for the bill last year when it first passed the House, asked lawmakers to be cautious, adding he doubted law enforcement thought the bill was a good idea.

“Booze, beer and wine is powerful stuff,” he said. “It causes people to do things that they ordinarily wouldn’t do.”

Law enforcement officials, including SLED chief Mark Keel, testified last year that guns and bars “do not mix.” The Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense group also pressed lawmakers not to pass the law.

Critics of the law suffer from a sort of intentional myopia, and refuse to recognize that variations of this legislation exist in surrounding states.

Similar legislation is already the law in the surrounding southern states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and these laws simply have not led to the alcohol-fueled gunfights that citizen control advocates have continually and dishonestly fearmongered.

These laws have allowed moms and dads who normally carry a concealed handgun retain possession of that firearm when they go to a restaurant with their family, instead of forcing them to leave it in their vehicle where it is not in their control and is potentially subject to theft. It expands where they can legally carry arms, so that they might defend their family if the worst comes to pass, and not face the horror faced by Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp that horrible day in Luby’s cafeteria.

It’s a good bill, and one that should expand to other states as well.