Correction – New law doesn’t apply to Square Pub

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt April 30, 2014

Photo from The Square Pub Facebook page.

Editor’s note:  The initial reporting on House Bill 60 was incorrect. While Square Pub was quoted accurately, the premise behind the questions was not accurate. For the most up to date information, click here

Another Decatur bar has announced that it will not allow guns on its premises in response to a bill that expands the rights of gun owners.

Last week, the Thinking Man Tavern made a public statement in response to House Bill 60, the so-called “guns everywhere bill.”  The new law allows licensed gun owners to carry in places like churches and bars, unless they are specifically banned by the owners.

This week the Square Pub in Decatur joined Thinking Man in telling patrons that guns are not welcome.

Jason Wiles, the owner of Square Pub, sent the following statement to Decaturish on April 30.

“I’d be glad to be vocal about this.  We will very vehemently say NO to guns in our bar.  If lawmakers and the governor think this is such a great idea, why did they exclude their places of work from the bill but not mine?  As a veteran and I am pro gun ownership.  I have several myself, but c’mon, this is absurd.  Every sane person realizes guns and alcohol don’t mix.  It’s not the responsible gun owner I am worried about.  I get the argument that they make places safer in case something terrible happens.  It’s the nut bag, cop wannabes longing to be a hero who go out trolling for problems and an opportunity to save the day.  That scenario coupled with the 947 other scenarios I am not even thinking about make this decision a no brainer.  I understand people’s natural reaction is often to ‘do something’ in the face of terrible events like Sandy Hook.  The problem is their reactions tend to be visceral and over the top.  My opinion is terrible events like school shootings are often a product of mental illness.  Outlawing guns will not fix this and neither will putting more guns in the hands of responsible people in more places.

“All that being said, I can’t say enough that the decision for The Square Pub about whether or not to allow guns in our bar has nothing to do with politics or constitutional rights.  It is a simple matter of common sense and safety.  Safety for our customers and safety for our staff.  We will not allow guns in our bar because guns and alcohol don’t mix.  Period.”

He added, “I’m all for it as long as we are also bringing back hitching  posts, gambling on the first floor, and prostitutes in our upstairs rooms.”

Few other bars have responded to the question of whether guns would be allowed. Darren Comer, co-owner of The Marlay House, sent this message last week:

“My initial take is that state leadership (in an election year) has created this situation forcing establishments like ourselves to now make a public safety related and politically polarizing decision. The Marlay owners will have to meet and decide collectively.”

Dano Kirk, owner of the Kirkyard Public House in Kirkwood, told Decaturish that he not would expressly forbid patrons to bring guns into his bar.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • denkon

    Way to go. Totally agree with Jason’s decision. Guns and beer don’t mix, at least the good stuff served at the Square Pub.

  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks SP. I have no problem with your rights as a business owner stating that you do not allow firearms in your establishment. I do find it interesting that you used the adjective “vehemently” to describe your opposition (I had to refresh my memory from high school vocabulary to make sure I understood). Best of luck.

  • Jim

    Licensed pistol carry in bars is legal in exactly half of the states, which includes states like CA and NY. The sky has not fallen and blood hasn’t been filling the streets in the 25 states that allow this activity. How will GA be any different when on July 1st it becomes the 26th state to allow bar carry? This is nothing new folks. Licensed pistol packers don’t just go insane because they have a gun and a beer.
    I want to thank Square Pub for letting me know where not to spend my money and Kirkyard Pub for letting me know where to spend it.

  • DecaturCarry

    Isn’t Square Pub technically a restaurant? Does the new law even apply here? I was there for lunch a last month, ate lunch and drank iced tea, and the sight of whiskey behind the bar did not make me feel the need to take out my legally concealed firearm and start shooting. His property, his rules – I respect that, but I won’t be back.

  • Evin

    This is how the free market works, which is why the people getting so upset over “guns in bars” is ridiculous. The bar owners have the right to allow or not allow guns.

    Free markets can dictate behavior much better than any legislature.

    • Eric

      There is a group now working to post publicly, all bars and restaurants that allow guns or who have taken a seemingly pro gun position and those that will not allow guns on their business premises. The list will be updated weekly and remain in the public eye and conversation until the law is repealed. Let the citizens of Decatur be informed and choose where they prefer to patronize and where they decide not to spend their time and money. So far in the process, there are now 11 to 2 in favor of banning guns in their bars. The list is growing and clearly showing attitudes and messages to the Decatur public. Yes, the free market will definitely make a difference and most likely will result in several business failures along the way. This is an undisputed pattern across the country at this time. This group is establishing graphic standards and notices within the letter of the law to easily inform and graphically announce a bars willingness to allow guns or not. I’m betting I will be able to continue to frequent my favorite establishments, free of worry….bring our kids, grandkids and friends in a safe, gun free locale. The rest…..I’m sorry.

      • Jim

        You may be a little, shall we say, misinformed about GA law. If an establishment posts “no guns allowed” signs and someone carrying ignores it, no law has been broken. The owner can ask the person carrying to leave and they must or face charges if they refuse. But if they are concealed carrying, the owner won’t even know to ask them to leave. So, posting “no guns” signs is pretty much like pissing in the wind.

      • Jim

        I think the notion that licensed carriers = dangerous people is preposterous. This is a group of people that has undergone fingerprinting, FBI, GBI and state mental health checks to obtain their carry licenses. They are free of all felonies and misdemeanor crimes of violence. This is a group of people that do not go around assaulting people and committing crimes. Why are people, like Eric, so phobic of a group of people so law abiding?

      • Evin

        Those gun free zones are always so safe…Columbine, etc.

  • Common sense please!

    I have never been a Square Pub patron but now I will make a point of spending money there. Ditto for Thinking Man Tavern. Thank you for some common sense. My grandmother could tell you that alcohol and guns don’t mix. (She’d be fine with the hitching post, but not the gambling and prostitutes!)

  • EJ

    Duplicating my comment about Thinking Man –

    As Decatur doesn’t allow bars this entire conversation is misleading. The Square Pub is a restaurant with a liquor license, not a bar, and as such has never been off limits to people with a carry license. HB60 doesn’t change any of this.

    HB60 also doesn’t grant The Square Pub any rights it didn’t always have. They have always been able to ask someone to leave and they still can. Since The Square Pub is not a bar, carrying concealed into The Square Pub, regardless of the owners wishes, never has been nor is it now, illegal.

    Since the overwhelming majority of GA’s WCL holders carry concealed, The Square Pub will continue to have no idea of who may be carrying.

  • EJ

    I completely agree with Jason that addressing mental illness is a primary concern. One of the great things about HB60 is that it requires courts to report individuals adjudicated mentally incompetent to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. As none of the recent mass shooters (Columbine, Aurora, VT, Tucson, Newton, Navy Yard) where in the NICS, this is clearly addressing a significant issue.

    However his made up scenarios about ‘nut bag, cop wannabes’ just don’t occur. Statiscally, WCL holders in GA and across the nation are more law abiding than average citizens. If he’s actually worried, he should look at Virginia which during it’s first year of allowing CCW holders in bars, saw major crimes involving firearms at bars and restaurants decrease statewide by 5.2%. Although the new CCW presence may not have been responsible for the decrease, the scenarios Jason invisions simply didn’t occur.

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