Have Gun, Will Inspect

June 19, 1995

State troopers and town police carry pistols as part of their job, but do Carroll County liquor inspectors need to? Should the county liquor board develop a policy that allows its inspectors to carry firearms on their rounds? If so, under what conditions are these firearms to be used?

In light of testimony at the last liquor board meeting, all of these questions deserve answers. County liquor inspector Charles Kaizer, a retired state trooper licensed to carry a pistol, arms himself when he makes his rounds. Mr. Kaizer claims he needs his semi-automatic pistol when he takes cadets into watering holes with a history of brawling. Admittedly, going into some county taverns can be rough work, but Carroll County is not the Wild West.

Mr. Kaizer's pistol was an issue at the last liquor board meeting when Annie I. Yinger and Kay A. Barnes, owners of Clarence and Ann's, a bar in Gamber, were fined $250 for serving an underage cadet a light beer. Ms. Yinger claimed one of her barmaids served the 18-year-old cadet because the young woman was so unnerved and fearful of a robbery after she had been warned that Mr. Kaizer was carrying a gun.

Ms. Yinger, who lives upstairs from her bar, claimed she happened to look out the window when Mr. Kaizer drove up to conduct his "sting" operation on the afternoon of June 6. Ms. Yinger told the liquor board she saw this stranger grab a pistol from the front seat of his car and stick it into the waistband of his pants. Ms. Yinger called downstairs and warned her employees that one of the men entering the bar was armed.

Knowing that a customer might be toting a pistol may not excuse serving a beer to a minor, but liquor inspectors don't need handguns to carry out their work. Mr. Kaizer has the legal right to carry his pistol at all times, but it doesn't seem to be a wise decision when he enters bars as an inspector.

Liquor inspectors are not peace officers. Breaking up bar brawls is the job of the police, not the county liquor inspectors. Moreover, brandishing a pistol in a rowdy bar is probably the most dangerous way to break up fights or to guard underage cadets. If the liquor board determines its inspectors need to protect themselves, it would be better off requiring them to stow their pistols and carry nightsticks when they enter Carroll's saloons.

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