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Should Private Businesses Be Able To Ban Concealed Carry on Their Property?

We know these signs do nothing to protect law-abiding people. So why are they so prevalent?

Our great republic has diversity across its 50 States. But a commonality across the States that gun owners are sure to notice are signs. Specifically, signs at businesses that state something like ‘no weapons allowed.'

I don't want to rehash the same old topic of how utterly ridiculous these signs are. Anyone with the least bit of common sense knows that putting up a sign like this makes no one the least bit safer. Well, I take that back. These signs do embolden criminals who see unarmed people in these ‘gun free zones' ‘criminal protection zones' as soft targets. So yeah, criminals are absolutely safer in these locations … way to go business owner.

People can deny these obvious truths, heck people still argue the Earth is flat. But a lot of business owners aren't part of the Flat Earth Society. So why do they put these signs up, and is it even legal to ban legal law abiding concealed carriers?

Why Post These Ridiculous Signs in the First Place?

1. Ignorance of the law –

Business owners concern themselves with liability. And rightfully so! They often draw a parallel between the person who slips on a wet floor, and the person who is accidentally shot with a firearm. They fear a civil suit from both. But this correlation is inaccurate.

Many states have laws protecting business owners from such lawsuits. Even States that don't have specific laws, still require the injured person show how the business was somehow negligent. I can see the business owner's negligence if they fail to warn customers of a slippery wet floor …

… but do people honestly believe a business owner is liable for ANY injury sustained on their property? Is the store owner liable if one customer punches another and injures their hand? Of course not!

2. Misunderstanding of guns –

This goes without saying. Some people have a real fear of guns. They believe merely being near a gun puts them in some sort of peril. This causes them to apply their personal belief that guns are dangerous and bad.

3. State-sponsored prohibition-

States require business owners post certain information for their employees. Some of the materials come directly from that State's Labor Department. Several states (including the one in which I reside) include no gun policy signage with these materials. This creates a situation where a business owner may believe they MUST have such a policy. Or maybe a store owner is too lazy to change it or just wants to err on the side of caution.

Chart comparing the major firearms insurance companies

Misunderstanding of the law causes some owners to enact no gun policies.

Is it Legal?

This is the argument that I find intriguing. I may upset many of you but before I present the legality of it all, I'll tell you my opinion.

Private business owners should be free to choose if they allow weapons inside their business or not.

I feel such a policy is stupid for all the reasons already stated, but I also believe the State should not dictate who or what the private business owner must allow into their store. With some narrow exceptions …

There are federal and state level laws that do regulate this very thing. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it a Federal crime to discriminate. Other legislation would follow, creating ‘protected classes.' These include:

  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • national origin
  • age
  • sex (sexual orientation)
  • familial status
  • citizenship
  • pregnancy
  • disability
  • veteran
  • genetic information

States are free to create additional protected classes, and many have done so.

But you see firearm owners is not a protected class. Several states have unsuccessfully attempted to label firearm owners as a protected class, so business owners may lawfully discriminate or refuse service to armed customers.

The constitution protects the rights of the individual from the government, not another private individual.

What about my Constitutional Rights?

I do understand the bill of rights. The Second Amendment and the Heller decision have affirmed that we have the right to keep and bear arms. Not merely for hunting, or solely inside our home, but for our protection. This does, in fact, extend outside of our home.

However, the Bill of Rights protects the individual from the Government, not other private citizens. So private business owners can limit constitutional rights on private property. It makes sense right?

Wearing a Nazi swastika armband is protected speech under the First Amendment. Someone wearing one while walking on a public street cannot be arrested. But, a private business owner can certainly refuse service to the person wearing the armband.

Want to compare USCCA, US Law Shield, NRA Carry Guard, and the rest? Here's a chart.

This is exactly why private business owners should have a say on who and what they allow into their businesses. Imagine if the owner of a bakery, who happened to be a Holocaust survivor was forced to allow Nazis to gather in his store.

But Here is my Issue!

My issue is not the fact that armed people can be barred service in privately owned businesses (although it's stupid). My issue is with how the violation is criminalized.

The law varies from state to state. The violation in some states is a criminal charge, in other a civil charge.

Some states place the burden of proof on the prosecution to show the gun owner should have reasonably seen the sign.

In some states it's worse! Absent some extenuating condition, the assumption is that the gun owner knows the store policy. No verbal notification, or refusal to leave is necessary. This turns law-abiding citizens into criminals.

Think back to the dude with the swastika armband. Say he walks into the business that prohibits Nazis inside the store. By simply walking in the store, he/she wouldn't be arrested. Only after being told the policy and asked to leave would a trespassing charge be pursued.

Why should this be different for a citizen who is simply doing something that is also a protected right? You know, carrying a firearm for personal protection.

These laws unfairly criminalize otherwise law-abiding citizens.

And I'll give you this to ponder: Many states allow places funded with taxpayer money to prohibit law-abiding concealed carriers. Zoos and libraries commonly are funded with your tax dollars. Yet many of these places have clearly posted no weapon signs. Isn't it wrong to have to pay for something, and be excluded from enjoying it?

What to Do?

  • vote- You can't complain if you are not part of the process.
  • stay informed in your state's representatives stances on gun issues- Vote out those who would legislate away your gun rights.
  • join activist groups- Join a national gun advocacy group that fights for gun owner's rights. There are also local groups whose goal is to lobby the state for your legal gun rights.

You have to be engaged in the shaping of your state's gun laws.

Sound off and let us know how you feel about your state's law regarding armed citizens on private property.

Stay safe and God bless.

Who offers the best insurance when you pull the trigger in self-defense? Find out here!


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10 Responses to Should Private Businesses Be Able To Ban Concealed Carry on Their Property?

  1. Darkwing September 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    If a business does not want me to come into their business armed, then I do not go to that business. People should vote or voice an opinion with their dollars. PLUS you tell the manager that you are going to tell every one not to go to these business

  2. Harry Frank September 29, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    Couldn’t disagree more. If a neighbor doesn’t want me to come into his house with muddy shoes, I take my shoes off. If one of our local business doesn’t want me to come in with my handgun, I leave it in the car. Courtesy and respect for others vs. my rights? No contest. To do otherwise would be as childish and petulant as exercising freedom of speech with insult and obscenity.

    • Sam June 25, 2018 at 6:19 pm #

      Criminals will not take off there muddy shoes if they are robbing your house. Just like no gun signs tell crooks that here are free targets. No gins mean no safety for you, me or our families. I have walked away from businesses for not allowing me to protect my family.

  3. Darrell October 1, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    Should Private Businesses Be Able To Ban Concealed Carry on Their Property? Definitely YES!! Private Property RIGHTS!! But YOU can also tell the business owner, that because of his action you and ALL of your friends will take their business elsewhere, AND you will be sure that everyone YOU knows KNOWS the business policy of providing a ‘gun free killing zone’ to the criminal element.

  4. Warren March 21, 2018 at 12:30 pm #

    I suggested to my state representative the following:

    Special tax/penalty for businesses that are gun free zones (money to go to schools for firearms training) or to a fund to compensate victims of gun free zones.

    Not sure if it made his list of things to do.

  5. Dean March 21, 2018 at 3:14 pm #

    Private property. The owner controls the premises. Up to the owner along with any liability that might come from ownership of property. It isn’t a law so it is no crime unless told to leave and refusing to do so at which point it becomes trespassing.

  6. Denis June 25, 2018 at 12:06 am #

    It is pretty simple :

    1) Despite the misinformation and “fake news” from the gun lobby, GFZs are dramatically safer than non GFZ. For example. Australia’s gun controls effectively made 95% of the population living in GFZs. Since then there hasnt been a single mass shooting in a GFZ – NOT ONE in 20 years for 95% of the population !

    Conversely the 5% has had two mass shootings (in 20 years). I could post stats from countries and jurisdictions all over the world (including USA) – but at the end of the day – the business owners should be free to accept the evidence.

    2) It is a business decision . Again I have published data on this showing that for businesses that arent gun specific they are likely to be better off with such a rule.

    • Matthew Maruster June 26, 2018 at 8:57 am #

      I don’t think Australia’s gun controls would have been nearly as effective if they simply posted ‘no gun’ signs around the country. I imagine that prohibition and confiscation of firearms had more of an effect than signage. So you are actually getting off topic in comparing a private business putting up a sign in hopes it makes bad guys not bring guns into their store, and a country effectively eliminating access to firearms across the board.

      I have to disagree with you on the GFZ’s being safer than non-GFZ’s. I would encourage you to look at the locations of active shootings in the last 10 years. You will find that it shows that premise to be incorrect. You could also extrapolate the fallacy of the GFZ being safe, by looking at areas like Detroit which in essence are GFZ’s. It hasn’t curbed the criminality of gang members using firearms.

      On a positive note, I do agree that store owners should have the right to prohibit firearms on their property. Until such a time that gun owners become a protected class like any of the other protected classes.

  7. Pat September 7, 2019 at 9:30 am #

    Does our present system work? None of us can be satisfied with this insanity. Why is it important to be capable of owning a “machine gun?” Why the resistance to gun registration? Wouldn’t you agree something needs to be done? Please answer, and honestly give a solid solution to gun violence. Until there is some reasonable path out of this madness, I will side with Wal-Mart.

    • Matthew Maruster September 7, 2019 at 12:55 pm #

      Pat, thank you for reaching out. I think your questions are reasonable, and many people have the same concerns as you do. We have articles that address many of those questions you just raised. I will try to provide a succinct response and a link to some more reading if you choose a deeper explanation.

      First, I think it important to understand that like you, responsible gun owners want to reduce the likelihood of anyone, young or old of being killed or injured by a criminal. To put it plainly, gun owners carry guns to protect themselves from the very people who would try to murder and kill innocent people. As long as we can agree that regardless of what side of the gun control debate you may be on, we all want to protect lives then we can have a discussion.

      You asked, does our present system work? I hope I am correct assuming you are talking about the background check system. The vast majority of mass shooters have either passed a background check, or bought their firearm illegally. Even the most recent shooter who obtained their firearm through a private party transfer (sometimes referred to as the gun show loophole) did so illegally. Based on his conviction, he was prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. So even his purchase from a private party was illegal. To expand on the trouble with the background check system a bit, is the fact that not all states submit their information into the system. This is why many people who may have been flagged during a background check did not get flagged. The system is also incorrect and flaggs perfectly legal people because of data errors or because their name closely matches someone who may have been flagged. Additionally, although it is illegal for a person to purchase a firearm for someone else because that person would not pass a background check (known as a straw purchase) the DOJ almost never prosecutes the person even when they confess. For example the woman who purchased a firearm for her gang member boyfriend, was given probation after she admitted she bought him the gun he used to murder a police officer. There are far too many ways people can illegally purchase or steal firearms if they can’t pass a background check and want a gun. Additionally, making quality guns from scratch requires skill and specialized machinery. Buying parts of guns and assembling them is so simple that a highschool kid who passes woodshop (if they still have that class) could likely make a gun that would work good enough to kill someone if they were so inclined. Then there is the issue that there are an estimated 400 million firearms owned in the united states. Even if you were able to institute a background check system that would be 100% effective in stopping bad people from purchasing a firearm, what about all the other firearms out there? And even if you were able to magically take away every gun from bad people, who is to say that in the future someone who is ‘good’ doesn’t have a meltdown and become ‘bad’? Background checks cannot predict future behavior, only reflect past behavior. It also brings up an issue for juveniles. Traditionally juvenile’s criminal records have been sealed, but should this information be used to prohibit them from owning firearms in the future? Should a kid who acts out because his parents got a divorce, becomes depressed and needs counseling be labeled as mentally deficient and not allowed to purchase a firearm in the future? Should these kids be barred from serving in the military? One of the institutions that has turned around so many kids in the past? These are questions that must be part of the discussion. So if you are talking about that system being broken, then I would agree, it certainly is. Here are a few articles we have published on the topic:

      As far as being satisfied, no one is, including gun owners. More and more people choose to purchase a firearm and seek training including training required for concealed carry permits. The reason is almost always, there are far too many violent people and the police cannot protect me at all times. People understand that with shrinking police forces, response times are far too long to wait for an officer to arrive in order to stop someone from trying to take their life or the lives of their loved ones. When teachers who have served in combat and have training with firearms, ask to be able to conceal a firearm at school in order to protect students and staff, they are doing so because they want to preserve life. Police response to active shooter incidents, even in the best case are not able to stop the threat quickly enough. Time after time legally armed citizens risk their lives for people they don’t even know in order to try and stop a mass killing. These stories do not get much media coverage, but we cover story after story where mass killings were stopped by a regular joe off the street. Here is one we just covered this week on our podcast:

      I will answer the question about ‘machine guns’ in two parts. First it is important to use the correct terminology. Basically, a machine gun fires multiple rounds when the trigger is pulled (also called fully automatic). Civilians ownership of these types of firearms are highly restricted. One must pass additional background checks, pay the government money and it is quite a lengthy process lasting many months. The AR-15 is not fully automatic and not a machine gun. It fires one round each time the trigger is pulled (also called semi-automatic). Semi-automatic guns account for the overwhelming majority of the millions of guns in the hands of citizens. Functionally, AR-15’s are no different that popular hunting rifles, and use ammunition that is far less powerful. So much so that many states do not allow AR-15’s to be used for hunting because the round is not powerful to kill larger game and thus not humane. Also there are constitutional questions about what type of firearms are protected under the Second Amendment, but that is a completely different topic. Here is an article where I addressed the AR-15 issue in depth:

      The resistance to gun registration is probably the easiest to explain. First, gun registration can only be accomplished with universal background checks. And for the issues noted above, background checks are a terrifically inadequate tool at keeping criminals from getting firearms. But at it’s hart, registration scares gun owners because on its face it is a tool that is too easily used in corrupt ways by politicians. Why should the name of a person who has never committed a crime, and has done nothing illegal in their life be on a list held by the government, simply for owning a firearm? The only reason a registration list is necessary is so if the government wants to, it can take away the guns of citizens. It is proposed as a tool to only take away the guns of people who should not have them, but who decides the terms? The people? No, the government. So if today I am a law abiding citizen who served my country in combat, was a police officer and has a clean criminal record, owns a firearm that President Sanders thinks is ‘unnecessary’ the logical step is to find my name and force be to sell my legal owned property to the government for whatever they want to give me for it. If I don’t what then? Do I become a criminal, do I go to jail, prison what is the appropriate punishment? And even if I do sell my gun to the government (it isn’t a buy back, because the government can’t buy back something they never owned in the first place) how does that make society safer? I am not the threat, the person who will go around any law to obtain a firearm is the threat. And he/she doesn’t have any registered firearms. No I am less able to protect my family from the criminal who is not subject to the ‘buy back.’ Furthermore, where will the government get the money to ‘buy back’ firearms? Taxes. So I am giving the government money to buy my firearm from me. I am not a economist but it seems like a bogus deal. In essence, registration will always, not might but always lead to some sort of confiscation. And when it comes to enforcement, we have to be honest. Do you think they will go to Chuck Schumer’s house (he owns a New York State concealed handgun license that most people cannot get) and confiscate firearms on the ‘unapproved list?’ No way, he will fight it and show he needs firearms, or at least his body guards need them. So who’s firearms will be confiscated? The low-hanging fruit. Poorer and average Joe’s who don’t have body guards, government pensions and lawyers on retainer. History always repeats itself.

      I will skip ahead and say I feel that Walmart and any other privately owned company should be able to make its own policy. If they would prefer not to sell a product, they should not be obligated by the government to sell or provide a product they find conflicts with their conscious. Similar to when Hobby Lobby choose not to provide contraception that in their view went against their conscious because it killed a human life. Both should be supported even if you don’t agree with their stance. In fact I wrote an article about boycotts and such in 2016:
      It is important to understand that it wasn’t so long ago gun safety was taught at school and kids were able to have a squirt gun at school without being suspended. There has been a real effort to change the way Americans look not only at guns but gun owners. Gun owners are increasingly looked at as being unhinged simple for owning a firearm. I explained several examples of the hypocrisy and brainwashing that has been happening form about the last 20 years:

      So the solid soliton you ask for is not an easy one. But we have to look objectively at the facts. While there has been an increase in the number of mass shootings, violent crime, and gun deaths in general is falling. All this while gun ownership is continuing to climb. I won’t try to say that something as complex as crime statistics is easily affected by one stimulus such as gun ownership, but if it were solely a ‘gun violence’ problem then gun deaths would increase as gun ownership increased. So similarly I don’t buy into the singular focus of ‘banning guns’ as a solution. We have to accept that it is more complex. Here are a couple of articles that present impartial data from the DOJ and FBI about gun deaths and it isn’t what you hear on the news:

      So back to solutions. My answers may not be what is popular but because you asked: Let’s look at what is causing people in general to give up on life. It is much easier to kill innocent people when you feel you’re life is worthless. What is causing the dispare? What is making people not want to get married, have kids and own a home? What is making people become addicted to pain killers and illegal drugs at a rate higher than at any other time. Why do we have so many homeless people, and how do we manage the problem? Why is it okay to attack certain people for having a different political, religious or societal view? Why is a working mother looked upon as being powerful and strong, when a stay at home mother who raises a family is portrayed as submissive and weak? Why when there is a morality problem do people look to the government to solve it? Why are we fighting other countries wars, when we are losing more people to suicide and overdoses than all the wars combined? All of these things are complex questions, but have profound effects on how people treat one another. So I said you may not agree or like my answer, but I am a Christian, and I believe the problem is not the firearm, or the firearm owner, but the hart of the person. I think we have a crisis of compassion, understanding and love in our country and THAT is what allows someone to see another person not as the precious life that it is but a life that can be killed for convenience sake, or for some perceived wrong that society in general has committed against that person.

      If you have read all this, I thank you again, and would like to invite you to come onto the podcast and have a civil conversation about all I said and your response to it. I can absolutely ensure you will be treated fairly and with respect and we can have an exchange of ideas and maybe see where we may have some agreements and where our differences lie. I also don’t know where you live, but if you’re in Ohio, I would be happy to take you out to the range or meet up and have a cup of coffee and talk. Either way, email us at [email protected]

      Stay safe

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