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N.C.’s Antiquated Sunday Closing Laws

Let them drink beer!!

Let them drink beer!!

North Carolinians should be allowed to purchase alcohol at the grocery store before noon on  Sunday. You can’t, however, because of the state’s “Sunday Closing Laws” outlined in N.C. General Statute 18B-1004(c) which states, “It shall be unlawful to sell or consume alcoholic beverages on any licensed premises from the time at which sale or consumption must cease on Sunday morning (usually 2a.m.) until 12:00 Noon on that day.” N.C.G.S. 18B-1004(c) is antiquated and needs to be repealed.

Why did the legislature select the arbitrary hour of Noon to allow for the purchase of alcohol on Sundays to resume? Why not 11a.m. or 1p.m.? Why just ban alcohol purchases before noon on Sundays only? Why not enact the same ban for every day of the week? Why only enact a ban on the sale or consumption of alcohol before noon, but not a ban on the wholesale delivery of alcohol before noon (as outlined in the exception granted to wholesalers in 18B-1004(e))?

These would be questions a reasonable person would ask if they had never heard of “blue laws” or N.C.’s Sunday Closing law and I would challenge any legislator to come up with any rational reason why the state still enforces 18B-1004(c). My legislators are Rep. Jeter and Sen. Tarte. I emailed both of them on December 8th asking for their respective positions on 18B-1004(c) and have yet to receive a response from either.

It’s not my intent here to delve into the history and religious basis of the so called “blue laws,” but where exactly in the Bible does it prohibit the sale of alcohol before noon on Sunday? And what about Friday and Saturday? I’m no religious scholar, but aren’t these days considered days of rest by two of the largest religious groups in the world? If you’re not in favor of extending the statewide ban on the sale of alcohol before noon on Sundays for the entire week, surely we can all agree to respect the traditions of two of the largest religious groups in the world and ban the sale of alcohol before Noon on Friday and Saturday, right?

I recently submitted a “Peeved” on this topic to the Huntersville Herald and received a telling response in the December 27th edition of the Herald. The response informed me that I could leave if I didn’t like N.C.’s prohibition laws, that “we” didn’t invite you here, and that “I for one, think all stores should remain closed on Sunday, as it used to be.”

It’s true I’m not a Huntersville native, but as a native North Carolinian, I found it amusing to be told to go back to where I came from (I now know how it feels to be from Ohio). The response was telling because I believe the writer speaks for many who would be in favor of forcing all businesses to remain closed until noon (if not all day) on Sundays – just like it used to be in the good ole days. And yet many of these very same people likely become indignant at the notion that the state forces privately owned restaurants to ban smoking.

A final thought for those of you in favor of state sponsored prohibition. Could it be possible that the stated purpose of N.C.’s Sunday Closing Law (whatever it may be) and its actual effects differ? Could it be that the law acts to protect certain business interests instead of causing less people to indulge in alcohol on Sundays? The Bootlegger-Baptist problem has been around as long as “blue laws” so consider me slightly skeptical whether I’ll be able to buy a six-pack of beer on Sunday  morning before a Panthers game this time next year.

*Eric Rowell recently attempted to purchase a six-pack of Saranac Caramel Porter during an early morning grocery trip to Harris Teeter until he was kindly reminded by the clerk that this was prohibited.

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