Over the last 8 years or so, responsible and legal gun owners across the country have universally been demonized and lumped in with any psychopath or criminal that decides to use a firearm to carry out any crime. No distinction is made between law abiding citizens living within the God given rights that were afforded to us and protected by our constitution, and the sad souls who have no regard for human life. Unfortunately, this constant attack has caused many of us in the gun community to grow intolerant or lose patience with uneducated and misinformed people and companies. Especially when a company or business owner decides to create a ‘no-gun' zone in their private business. You should check your state law concerning private property and the right of that business owner to prohibit legally possessed firearms in their business. Additionally understand the various punishments (criminal vs civil) coming from a possible violation. Even though the laws are different from state to state, our response can be universal.
Every aspect of our lives can easily be connected to the internet. We all have such a larger reach to people than we did a few short years ago. Social media like Facebook, allows our individual experience to be shared an incredible number of times, reaching millions. There are also online petitions like change.org that allow seemingly anyone to start a petition for nearly any reason. In my opinion, these tools are great when used appropriately. But it appears that over use of these tools reduces their actual impact or legitimacy. Social media and petitions are great for drawing awareness to problems, for example a business that prohibits legally possessed firearms. But we should be careful to not quickly jump to these platforms, or create a petition for a boycott of a store, before fully understanding the situation.
Recently, I saw a post where an open carrier was told to leave a well known home improvement store in their state (open carry is legal in that state). They had shopped there for years, and open carried many times without an issue. Apparently a new manager told this person they could no longer open carry and that they had to leave. Hundreds of people read this post and weighed in, immediately calling for a ban of the store and that they would never shop there again. Out of the many that I read, one post of clarity made its way through. The person recommended the open carrier, call the corporate office of the store and find out the official policy concerning firearms. Turns out that the official policy allows open carry, and the open carrier was apologized to and told that the local store manager was incorrect in how they handled the situation.
The reason I mention this, is so often we are quick to become defensive. Perhaps it is because we are constantly being treated differently, as if we are criminals. Many large corporations like the store in the above scenario, have corporate policies that may be contrary to the local manager's opinion about prohibiting legally carried firearms on the property. Small businesses have their individual policies. Some may have placed a sign up long ago, before realizing how important having legal, responsible gun carrying civilians in their business is, and just never thought about changing the policy. Perhaps the business has changed ownership and no one ever really addressed the no-gun policy of the prior management or even questioned it. If you routinely visit a small business that has a policy against legal firearm possession, instead of immediately grabbing your torch and pitchfork, demanding a boycott or blasting them on social media, we would do much better as a gun community to respectfully speak with the management. Perhaps through education we can bring some of these gun fearing store owners over to the side of reality and understand the safety that comes from doing away with such a policy. The worst thing that can happen if you handle yourself professionally is the manager says “no”. But the outcome may actually surprise you. I spoke to one of my students who recently did just this. He spoke with the owner of a store he normally visited. He spoke with facts and was professional while presenting the reasons why allowing legally armed citizens in the store would actually be a good thing. Low and behold, the store changed from a no-gun zone to a store of 2nd amendment freedom, all without negative bashing or boycotts.
I know we are treated differently because of our choice to carry a firearm. After a while, this can become very disheartening and it can become more difficult to take the high road. But understanding that much of the belief that a no-gun zone is safer, comes from the media's brainwashing of the public, and ignorance of the facts. We have to combat the hysteria and ignorance with knowledge and dialogue. I believe we will get much better responses if we educate business owners. When, after we have presented a logical argument and the business owner decides to continue to prohibit law abiding citizens the right to cary in their store, it may be the time to refrain from shopping at that business. If the management goes overboard and is hostile, it may be appropriate and a time to use social media to bring light to the incident. USA Firearm Training has a great tool that allows anyone to add a business that is a no-gun zone. This tool is easily accessed and the more of us who add good information, the more we, as a community can know where we are welcome and where we are not. The database can be accessed here.