RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You could soon be sitting next to someone at a bar or restaurant and not know they are packing heat. It's part of a new Virginia law that starts July first, but there's a catch.
Next Thursday, concealed handgun permit holders can walk into a bar or restaurant with their gun, but they can't drink alcohol. Gun rights advocates say it's their right. One customer we spoke with says the new law makes her uncomfortable.
Emily Ward isn't thrilled that should she be out at dinner that the person next to her could be armed and she wouldn't know it.
"That definitely makes me feel much more nervous knowing that people could have a few drinks before the bar and then come here and have a gun," said Ward.
But Ward says she can understand why someone would want to carry.
"If some body's walking home late at night by themselves in the Fan after they work their shift or something, that makes it more acceptable," said Ward.
"Hopefully there won't be any problems. Right, there might be an increase in problems. There might be a decrease in problems," said New York Deli owner Demetrios Tsiptsis.
When the guns-in-bars legislation was under debate earlier this year, one police chief equated it to drinking and driving. But Governor Bob McDonnell said he wanted to uphold the second amendment rights of law abiding citizens.
"I think the second amendment is how America won it's freedom and I think that's the way we're going to have to keep it too," said Eric Folkes.
"I don't see why it would be a problem if you have to go through the process and you have to get all your papers, run your background check, you should be able to carry wherever you want in my opinion," said Bruce Watson.
James Timberlake is a concealed carry permit holder. But doesn't see himself bringing his gun to a bar. It's mostly for his protection when traveling.
"Whose who say you're going to break down, you're in the middle of nowhere, you don't know your surroundings - I mean it's just for safe measures," said Timberlake.
If a concealed carry permit holder does bring a gun to a bar and is caught drinking they could be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor.
*This is just one of many laws that will go into effect on July 1st. For a list of several more new laws that could impact you, check out our political blog DecisionVirginia.com.