SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - "Allow 18+ into Shreveport bars and clubs."
That's the message an online petition penned by Chris Lyon asks the Shreveport City Council to do: Change the law to allow those ages 18 through 20 not to drink but to get them through the doors of bars and nightclubs just the same.
"Making sure that people are following the law is priority 1," Lyon said.
"But at the end of the day, we have to look at the other side too, which is: What opportunities does this afford us? What ways can the city benefit from it?"
The petition asks council members to amend Ordinance 118 of 2000 to allow 18- through 20-year-olds such access.
The drive started just a few days ago is gathering steam.
"Overnight, we had 150 signatures," Lyon said. "That same day, we got up to 300; and now we're over 600."
Without such access to the city's bars and nightclubs, Lyon said, 18- through 20-year-olds will spend their money elsewhere and take their careers and futures out of Shreveport.
"Those are important years and informative years when they are choosing where they want to live."
The owner of Sand Bar in downtown Shreveport agrees. Tim Huck thinks it would have made a difference for Phoenix Underground, which he closed at the end of April after 10 years in business.
"If it had been 18 and up, Phoenix would definitely still be open. You'd see a large percent of the bars and nightclubs that have closed down would still be open."
Huck said the proposed change might even curb underage drinking by having young adults in a supervised place. "If they're here, you're at least going to have our security. You're going to have our people who are having to watch after them because, at that point, our licenses are going to be at risk."
Even if the law is changed, Huck noted, businesses still could choose to operate the same as they do now. But those ages 18 through 20 should have a choice, too, he said.
"It's kind of a weird deal. You're at the age of accountability. You're responsible enough to be accountable for your actions, but you're not responsible enough to be able to go into an establishment and make good, sound decisions."
District A Councilman Willie Bradford responded to the online petition by writing: "I have my reservations....but I'm open to the conversation."
Lyon said Bradford has invited him and other proponents of the petition to a public safety meeting Monday to discuss the issue.