Progressive activists in Charleston are taking aim at the city’s economic engine in a campaign to dissuade lawmakers from passing a bill to allow people to carry guns in businesses that serve booze.

They’re handing out yellow cards to managers of local bars and restaurants with a not-so-subtle warning: allow guns in your establishment and lose my business.
“I will patronize posted weapons free places. I will encourage other people to do likewise,” the flyer reads in part. “You will be forced to decide which group of customers to lose, those favoring loaded weapons in your place of business or those opposed to them.”

The bill was the first big debate South Carolina senators had at the start of the latest legislative session that began last week. It allows anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun into a bar or restaurant as long as they don’t drink alcohol. It passed there 34 to 3, and heads to the House for a final expected vote before Republican Gov. Nikki Haley can sign it into law.

Yesterday, about 70 people gathered in Marion Square for a Martin Luther King Day event to hear a coalition of progressive activists, clergymen and others speak about reducing violence.

“It’s time to speak up and contact your state representative and state senator and try to prevent this ridiculous bill from being passed,” College of Charleston history professor George Hopkins told the crowd. “Guns in a bar? What could go wrong?”

Mt. Pleasant attorney William Hamilton says he’s dropped off flyers at several area bars and restaurants, and talked to managers. 

“Most of the managers read it and you can read their body language [that they don’t like it], but they don’t want to say anything,” he says.