Opinions on the new state law allowing weapons in bars ranged from irritation to calm among East Valley bar owners and managers interviewed by the Tribune Wednesday.
The measure, which went into effect Wednesday, allows anyone with a state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon to carry it into a bar or restaurant where beer, wine or liquor is sold. However, they are prohibited from drinking liquor, and the establishment can post a sign specifically banning all weapons if it wants to keep them out.
Some bar owners said they wished the issue had never come up in the Arizona Legislature because they didn't want to be dragged into gun-rights debates. Others said they simply plan business as usual.
At least three establishments in Mesa, three in Chandler and one in Apache Junction obtained no-weapons signs for posting from the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.
Jack Barz, manager of Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, said he posted signs on the advice of the restaurant's insurance company, although he said he was seeking further guidance from the insurer.
Also the Elephant Bar Restaurant location in Chandler posted signs as part of a companywide policy, an employee said.
Steve Conrad of the Blue 32 Sports Grill in Gilbert said he agonized over what to do about a sign, feeling the law put him in an impossible situation.
"If we post a sign, it indicates we don't care about gun rights," he said. "If we don't post a sign, we don't care about customer safety. We make people mad one way or the other."
In the end, he said he plans no changes, hoping to stay out of the political debate.
"I'm not happy about the potential of guns in here, but I don't want to post a political statement. I just want to have great food and a fun and safe environment for our guests."
Chris Field, manager of Murphy's Law in Chandler, said his staff has not given much thought to the law. He said the restaurant doesn't plan to do anything differently.
"I think it's a terrible idea. We're not the wild West any more," he said of the concealed-weapon law. "But we have a pretty educated clientele. ... For us, I think it will probably be pretty much business as normal."
Cameron Selogie, owner of the Il Vinaio wine bar in downtown Mesa, also said he plans to post no signs and make no changes to his business.
"We've had laws for a long time that allow weapons in public places, and the public is used to it," he said. He added that anyone certified to carry a concealed weapon is likely to be careful and responsible in using it.
"A lot of our patrons are from the gun shows at the Mesa Convention Center. Why would I want to exclude them?" he said.
Customers interviewed by the Tribune at Il Vinaio offered varying opinions.
"My feeling is alcohol and guns are never a good mix," said Chandler resident Barry Davis. "But the law says they (customers carrying concealed weapons) are not supposed to be drinking. So I will hope for the best and sit close to the exit."
Another customer, Jan Schmitt, visiting from Yuma, doubted the new law will cause serious problems because a concealed weapon by definition would not be visible.
"I think most people who carry concealed weapons won't tell anyone they have them," he said. "So who would know?"