Drinkin’ an’ Guns

Yawn. I’m up, I swear. Those of you who pay attention to the time of posting (admittedly, probably just my Mom) may have noticed that it’s been getting later in the afternoon. That’s because for a twenty-something who is (essentially) unemployed, sleep patterns naturally gravitate toward “up late/sleep late”.

But, anyway, that’s all about to change. Now that I’ve gotten my “TAP” or “Training for Alcohol Professionals” certification, I will soon be starting my second job at the Brown Jug liquor store in nearby Eagle River. For those who don’t know, Brown Jug is a Canadian chain that has a sizable presence here in Alaska. So, it’s not exactly a “hole in the wall”.

The TAP class is given by the hospitality union twice a week, which seems like a lot, but there were a classroom’s worth of people there, so they must have a lot of applicants. As I predicted last week, the basic gist of the class was “don’t sell booze to underage kids or drunk people” but there was a lot of information about liquor laws in Alaska, how to spot fake IDs, and how alcohol affects the human body, with a test afterwards to make sure we paid attention.

I have stumbled upon a terrifying truth; Alaska is perhaps the most restrictive state in the union when it comes to liquor laws (well, except Utah, I guess). There are “dry” communities, where the people have just decided to keep upholding the 18th Amendment, and “damp” communities where you can own alcohol, but not buy or sell it, so you’d just have to bring it back with you when you come back from a den of sin like Anchorage. But even here, there are special state laws concerning the sale of alcohol on election days, hours when drinking and selling alcohol is prohibited, and most egregious of all; happy hours are straight-up illegal. The thinking is, I suppose, that they don’t want to incentivize or encourage drinking; if you happen to want to get a drink, that’s your business, but we’re not going to suggest it.

Clearly, we covered more stuff than a humble sales clerk at a liquor store needs to know, but the class is designed for anyone serving or selling alcohol in the hospitality industry; bartenders, waiters, theater pub owners, whatever. It was during one of these sections, on illegal activities going on in the establishment, that the most memorable event of the class occurred.

Obviously, bartenders and the like need to be aware if customers are breaking the law in their establishment. Obviously, the big four no-nos are drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, and the possession of a firearm. It was this fourth bit of illegal activity that sent a minor ripple of grumbling through the class. It should come as no surprise that Alaska is a very gun-luvin’ state, so to hear that their right to walk around with a death machine strapped to the hip was not respected somewhere sent chills through the crowd.

“But what if you have an open-carry license?” the most vocal of the concerned asked.

“That would still be illegal,” the instructor replied, as tactfully as possible. “Firearms are not allowed in any establishment where alcohol is sold.”

“So, then only criminals would have guns?” the clearly lifetime NRA member continued.

“Right. You walk into a bar with a gun, and you are technically a criminal.” This time, slightly less tactfully.

Now, I never like to get into politics, and gun control is, obviously, a hot issue right now. I am very centrist on this one; guns are nice to have for defense, if that makes you feel better, but they should be kept safely at home. You know, defensively. Wandering the streets with a gun is just asking for trouble. And the NRA crowd is not helping its case for rationality when they try to oppose gun laws in an alcohol professionals training course.

“But how am I supposed to deal with the angry drunk guy?” He seriously asked next. I learned long ago not to interrupt these kind of discussions, but I couldn’t help myself.

“What are you gonna do, shoot the unarmed drunk man?” The wave of laughter from the rest of the class diffused the discussion, but I made a mental note to not patronize a bar with that guy behind the counter.


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