Monday, December 03, 2012

Bethlehem Tragedy: Should Guns Be Allowed in Bars?

It's too early to know exactly what happened in the early morning hours at the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society in South Bethlehem. But I'm unable to think of any incident anywhere in the Lehigh Valley in which there has been so much carnage. Six people shot! One of them, a 23-year old baby named Yolanda Morales, is dead.

I doubt these were angels. Morales, for example, plead guilty to disorderly conduct in Bethlehem over a year ago. She was ordered to make $25 payments bi-weekly, but suddenly stopped in September 2011, leaving a balance due of $213.50. I don't know whether a bench warrant was ever issued. The case is simply marked "inactive."

Based on what DA John Morganelli told the press, I suspect that some of the wounded might also be the shooters.

Here's my question. Regardless whether you have a LTC, should you be able to tote a gun into a bar? Isn't this just asking for trouble? I represented someone who, years ago, and on the South Side, shot and maimed two guys who were taunting him inside a bar. And this is after he had already beaten them up. And no, he wan't Hispanic, so let's drop that they're animals argument before it starts. With enough booze, we're all animals.

What do you think? Is it time to require bar patrons to go through a metal detector? Doesn't it make sense to ban firearms inside any facility where alcohol is served?

Wouldn't it make sense for the state and or locality to impose such a ban? Instead of adopting illegal cell phone ordinances or legislating for a transgender's right to use the ladies' room, doesn't it make sense to adopt a law that will prevent people from shooting each other?

Instead of doing that, our state legislature is currently considering a law that will make it the sole authority over guns, pre-empting the right of local government to impose stricter rules.

Updated 5:45 PM: I learned during a news conference today that the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society does have a metal detector, as well as security personnel. So to those who argue that tighter laws won't help, you have a point.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I shouldn't have to give up my right to self defense just because I walk into a place that serves alcohol.

Bernie O'Hare said...

How about you keep your right to self-defense and stay out of the bar?

Anonymous said...

I think the conversation has been hijacked by partisanship, that is counter productive and slightly dangerous in its venomous support of one side these days. (No one should be open carrying the President of the United States outside where he or she may speak. That is just plain sick and questionable behavior).

Anytime I have purchased a firearm, it was quick and simple. I don't have a criminal record, so I get to walk away quickly and easy with a firearm. Now my job on the other hand, I had to submit more proof of my good behavior and mental state.

Oh, I should mention, I work with a firearm on my belt for a living. And I know all too well, too many questionable people buy firearms legally. Bernie O'Hare and Bob Costas are NOT the threat to your civil liberties--the person who may take or significantly hinder your life IS!


Trooper Joshua Miller was killed when a person who defined, "need for an emergency PFA" got a firearm threw a straw purchase by his girlfriend.

A large number of late night gas station hold-ups the firearms used are not hot. Legally purchased firearms being mis-used. A Monroe County school board member used his legally purchased firearm in a domestic dispute where he held someone against their will in the arrest allegation.

Why must law enforcement officer provide proof of competence to use and carry a firearm, but everyone else do not need to, and we end up with incidents like Kansas City, Colorado, and Florida with Trevon Martin.

When people who claim to "defend civil liberties and the constitution" rip me, just remember, they are supporting increasing the odds I get shot, while serving the resident of this Commonwealth.

I grew up with shooting, but even I see that one side is too radical and illogical on what needs to be addressed. I guess having never ending cash, supplied by manufactured panic in firearms media and NRA material can help anything carry on. I wish we had that kind of insane lobbying power in Harrisburg.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I can only imagine what was going thru the minds of police officers who responded to this shooting. I understand the right to bear arms and believe most people with LTCs are responsible. But we have to start thinking about whether it is right for a person with a weapon to hit the clubs, or whether a person who threatens to kill people should be packing.

Anonymous said...

First, all citizens are coverend under the secind amendment, not just police officers. If an indivdaul feels unjustly put upon, he or she may resign and one of the thousands of other police applicants will take the job. Also I know many police officers and they have more guns in their homes than their service sidearm. The constitution does not make any provision for a "special" class of citizen who is allowed to amass weappons.

Second, since a police officer cannot be with me at all times, it is up to me to protect myself and my family. I have committted no crimes and as such have the right to be armed.

Third, While I do not think having a weapon in a "Bar" is a good thing, I won't say it should be prohibited.

As these lowlifes showed they have no regard for anyones safety or life. MOst have no permits and should not even be legally possessing the weapons. They are a modern pestilence that I will legally defend myself and family from.


Once the threat is gone, I would be happy not to feel the need for protection.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Honestly Bernie, what are the chances any of these jokers had a LTC? And whatbarebthe chances that the Puerto Rican club could afford metal detectors and staff that know how to use them?

Anonymous said...

Go through metal detectors while entering a bar. Absolutely. Liquor changes people.

Anonymous said...

This club should have hired a bouncer and purchased a metal detector. Now 1 dead, 5 injured, perhaps more to die. Can the cost of a detector ever erase the loss of life? Who owns this club anyway?

Anonymous said...

How about banning Bows and Arrows too from college campus'? (see recent incident out west) Weapon control does not work. Criminals will use whatever they can to do harm.

Anonymous said...

Liquor should be illegal, just as pot and coke and heroin. Problem solved, right?

Anonymous said...

Enlarge Chris Post Bethlehem police investigate a shooting early Sunday morning in the 200 block of East Third Street in South Bethlehem. A shooting following an altercation at the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society at 205 E. 3rd St. left one dead and others five injured, according to emergency radio reports. Express-Times Photo | CHRIS POST

Imagine if this occurred when city visitors were on their way to a Musikfest event.

Anonymous said...

Actually pot seems to be gathering a legal acceptance.

Anonymous said...

Um, this happened outside the bar, and it started with a guy being hit with a baseball bat...

A metal detector wouldn't have done much in this case, since even if the guns had been checked at the door, they would have been returned on the way out. And if "checking" your gun at the door wasn't an option, don't you think people who'd just shoot each other in the street after attacking a guy w a baseball bat would have gotten their hands on a gun anyway?

Rules like the one you're suggesting only constrain sane, intelligent, law-abiding people's freedoms, not criminals...

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Musikfest and the Sands should partner to hire a private security force to protect E. Third. They may say it's not their problem, but it is.

Anonymous said...

Was it you who wrote about a bar in Allentown being closed down. Maybe the same should apply here.

Anonymous said...

Gun control in any form only hurts the lawful citizen and not the criminals, who in most cases, are carrying guns already illegally as their convictions would not allow them to purchase guns under current standards

Anonymous said...

Bern,
In case You have'nt noticed gun laws and checking guns don't work since the only people that seem to be getting away with carrying them are the ones who are not supposed to have them in the 1st place!!!!!

Resident of Allentown said...

I have an LTC and I go into bars with it unless a sign at the door states otherwise. When carrying a fire arm a person is legally liable to be sober.
I recall an incident in Allentown not too long ago where some drunk who was thrown out of a bar came back and attacked a patron with a knife whom he mistakenly thought was the bouncer who threw him out. This patron was legally carrying a fire arm and shot his attacker most likely saving his life. The loons are everywhere, including bars. A sane person who just wants to have a good time with friends at an establishment that serves alcohol should have the right to protect themselves with the full knowledge of the responsibility of carrying a fire arm, which is just as serious and dangerous as driving a car.

Anonymous said...

Even Dodge City had "check your gun" rules in the wild west days. Local gun control is as American as apple pie.

Anonymous said...

How about a severe penalty for being under the influence while carrying a firearm?

Ronnie said...

More LTC, not less...even in bars. Here's why:
I go out to bars almost never. I'm not a drinker, am happily married, and have no desire to hang out at the bar. However, there are occasions when we are invited out to celebrate a birthday, wedding, etc., at a bar or club, or where alcoholic drinks are served.
I rarely have a drink when we go out and never when I'm carrying. I need to be able to defend myself and my wife against an attacker, drunk or sober, everywhere we go. It comes back to personal responsibility, not more government regulations.
The "bad guys" will always get, carry, and use guns. We law abiding citizens cannot tolerate more laws that restrict our right to defend ourselves...even in bars.

Anonymous said...

I have a license to carry and it is for "protection". If you go to a nice restaurant that serves alcohol from a bar area, does that mean I shouldn't have the right to protect myself as I leave those premises and go to my automobile? Tens of millions of honest citizens have RTC permits and carry equalizers to protect themselves. Pass a law stating "no weapons allowed in establishments that serve alcohol and all the honest people will obey the law and all the scum bags will violate the law. Sorry Bernie, I'm on the side of those who are honest law abiding citizens. I have also carried a gun into our local sports bar.

Anonymous said...

I rarely have a drink when we go out and never when I'm carrying. I need to be able to defend myself and my wife against an attacker, drunk or sober, everywhere we go.

It must be depressing to live your life in total fear. I feel sad for you.

Anonymous said...

Carrying Under The Influence law.
Great idea!

Bernie O'Hare said...

4:24, I don't think a police officer is a special class. I think ALL of us should have the right to walk into a bar without worrying whether one of the "lowlifes" you mention will blow our heads off.

Also, I question the notion that there are "thousands" of police applications. Last time I looked into it, there was actually a shortage of police officers, especially in the cities. They have problems getting and keeping people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Who owns this club anyway?"

I'll find out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not saying that someone should not be able to carry on their way to and from the bar. I'm saying they should be checked at the door. This was a practice in the Wild West, and is, as a commenter has already observed, as American as apple pie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Um, this happened outside the bar, and it started with a guy being hit with a baseball bat..."

OK, And do you think someone would hit another person with a baseball bat if he knew that person was carrying? Or if he knew his friends were carrying. I think a "check 'em at the door" rule would have a deterrent effect.

Anonymous said...

State law prevents localalities from establishing any firearms related regulations and so such a law would be just as illegitimate as the cell phone bans. The bars are private property and can do whatever they like however.

Doesn't the issue get trickier for restuarants that also serve booze? If I want to go out for dinner with friends to the brew works in Allentown but not drink why can't I carry. Punish those to drink and carry just like DUI. Bans never work...anyone who says otherwise is ignorant of history (please see all the "gun free zones" at schools and colleges...how's that working out....or post offices for that matter!)

Anonymous said...

I have a carry permit and carry just about everywhere I go. If I am going to the bar to drink, I always leave the gun at home or at the very least in the car. The carrying a gun while intoxicated is not a good idea, you should always be in a clear state of mind when you carry.

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:37, There is a pre-emption doctrine, to be sure. The question is whether localities can impose regulations that are stricter than those imposed by the state. Unlike driving laws, where the legislature has expressed its intent clearly to be the sole regulator, this is a bit murkier.

I know there was a case pending concerning local gun control laws, but am unable to recall whether it has been decided.

I'd agree that it would be best for the state to address this issue, but the NRA lobby is strong in Harrisburg, and i doubt anything could pass.

Anonymous said...

They do have a metal detector in the club. Don't go railing before you check the truth, as you often do ohare.

Uncle Remus said...

Don't try em, just fry em

Bernie O'Hare said...

"They do have a metal detector in the club. Don't go railing before you check the truth, as you often do ohare."

If so, was it being used? It seems odd to me.

Local Liquor Lawyer said...

Regarding ownership of the bar, below is its PLCB public information. It's a club licensee and thus doesn't have owners/shareholders. It does have a history of violations, but none are violence related. Most were for admitting non-members or gambling devices on premises, which are common for clubs. That does not mean Northampton County can't consider prosecuting it as a nuisance bar in light of this incident. As a Bethlehem resident, I would be all for that.

http://www.lcbapps.lcb.state.pa.us/webapp/Agency/SearchCenter/PublicLicenseeSearchDisplay.asp?P1=A&P2=C&P3=48&P4=B&P5=&P6=&P7=&P8=PUERTO%20RICAN%20BENEFICIAL%20SOCIETY&P9=&P10=&P11=&P12=&P13=&P14=&P15=

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How about you keep your right to self-defense and stay out of the bar?"

Bernie -

I was just talking to a guy this weekend who was shocked that federal parks now allow people to carry firearms. His reasoning was that he takes his kids there (never mind that he likely takes his kids plenty of other places where people are carrying without his knowledge).

So his threshold would apparently be wherever kids might be. Yours apparently is where alcohol is served. Someone else would likely have a different take on it, and before long you couldn't carry anywhere (which I think is the goal of so many).

Maybe those who did the shooting had just visited a local blog before the shooting. Should we limit what and when people can blog (or read blogs, e-mails, etc) as well?

Above all, there is no guarantee that limiting carry would make anything safer. If anything, places which restrict carry and have the strictest gun control laws are often the most dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Establishments with gun checks are the answer. Nobody loses rights. Think Dodge City. If you don't want to disarm, you can find another establishment or stay home. God bless America and the 2nd Amendment. And yes, I'm a legal gun owner.

Guns don't kill people. Extremist political types on both sides do.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe those who did the shooting had just visited a local blog before the shooting. Should we limit what and when people can blog (or read blogs, e-mails, etc) as well?"

If they read this blog, they will want to shoot up the world. This is the home of paranoid old white teabaggers.

Anonymous said...

1:43 -

Establishments setting their own policy is one thing, being forced into a policy by the government is another.

By the way, there were likely no guns in the bar, according to the DA.

Yet way to try to use the incident to further your extremist agenda of disarming law-abiding citizens for the actions of a few.

Looks like you'll have to wait for another tragedy to try to take advantage of.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Maybe those who did the shooting had just visited a local blog before the shooting."

If you had some statistical evidence to support that, you might have a point. You and I both know that violent crimes are almost always a natural consequence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Regarding ownership of the bar, below is its PLCB public information. It's a club licensee and thus doesn't have owners/shareholders. It does have a history of violations, but none are violence related."

What I learned about the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society today is:

1) It has NO open liens.

2) It was sued in 2007 for a slip and fall inside the club. The case settled.

3) It was sued in 2008 for a stabbing inside the club. The case settled.

No litigation since then. It des have a metal detector. It does have security. It had surveillance cameras and turned them over to police. They showed bouncers kicking people out if they got too feisty.

So it appears the only flaw or mistake by the club might be the "open night."

Anonymous said...

Some 23 year old baby. She had a rap sheet just lkie the one you attack Trisha for. She was part of a gang of ethnics that were out of control and the inevitible happened.

Callhan has been so busy collecting money for his Execuitve run, he has let the city become like Allentown and Easton.

The once nice neigborhoods are disintigraitng with apartment conversions.

The animals are taking the streets, while the mayor throws them back at the casino.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nice to know that the Reibman-McClure forces are bigots.

Anonymous said...

The post at 1:32 was proablbly by people who want safe streets and care about their city. You are a fool. Maybe Callahan did it to mislead you.

Anonymous said...

"Ethnics" ??

You have some colorful and loyal readers. I see racist nonsense all the time on this blog and it's apparently condoned.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Those are the Reibman-McCure forces. I let the comment stand so readers can see them as they are. They are trying to get the bigot vote.


Anonymous said...

It is a shame these animals make a kill zone out of the cities they live in. Any wonder why there is white flight to the townships.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It is a shame these animals make a kill zone out of the cities they live in. Any wonder why there is white flight to the townships."

This comment comes from the same ISP as a comment on another thread that praises Reibman while bashing Callahan. Nice to know that Reibman supporters are bigots.

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