Christmas Shopping—Mall Parking Lots and Gun Free Zones

I thought most people were like me and do the majority, if not all, of their Christmas shopping online. This weekend I drove by three or four strip malls, and the parking lot for each one was full. So clearly, people still like to head to the mall to do some of their shopping. Understanding that many malls and individual stores have no gun policies, I figured it wouldn't hurt to remind readers of some best practices for dealing with this challenge.

We know lots of people avoid spending money in stores that don't allow firearms, but it's not always that simple. Finding a gun friendly alternative is difficult, especially when you, or one of your family members, is looking for a specific item. If you have a child who is a picky eater, finding a restaurant that everyone likes, AND doesn't have a no gun policy is exceptionally difficult.

I'll preface what follows by answering the question many readers are already asking themselves. How will anyone know I'm carrying a gun if I don't tell them? For obvious reasons, I can't recommend that people purposefully ignore the law. That said, everyone has to make their own decision on if they follow the law or not, and accept any consequences that come from a violation.

It's not always easy to avoid gun-free businesses, so here are some helpful strategies.

Know your state law—

Ideally, you've already read and stayed up to date on your state law concerning private property owner's right to prohibit concealed firearms on their property. Each state is different in what they require from the property owner in order. For example, there may be regulations or guidance on the type of sign or where the owner needs to post it. In some states, a sign may not even be necessary.

In some states, ignoring a no firearms sign may be a criminal violation, in others only a civil matter. Special conditions may apply to locations that sell alcohol, which may factor in to where you eat dinner. It's vitally important to understand your state's laws.

Here is a fantastic resource that you can use to determine any state's firearm laws, and much, much more. Our App called Concealed Carry Gun Tools provides legal information for every state and DC.

The App is available for Android and iPhone and is FREE.

Do some research—

If you already know where you're going, consider checking their website for a gun policy. Remember that the information may be out of date, so this may not always work. While you're doing some research, you may want to see if the location provides armed security or view online reviews to see what people are saying.

In the city I used to work as a law enforcement officer, we partnered with the malls in the high-crime areas to provide dedicated officers to man positions, and patrol the parking lots, as well as officers on foot inside the mall.

responding to a mass shooting

More about parking lots—

Many assaults, car-jackings and vehicle burglaries occur in parking lots, even when there are lots of people around. Here is a post where I explain my story of being car-jacked and some strategies to avoid being a soft-target.

Put all packages and bags in the trunk, out of view of thieves. Smash and grab vehicle burglaries are incredibly common, and it only takes a few seconds. Consider parking in a lit area of the parking lot or parking garage.

Avoid leaving your gun in the car. This is where you have to make wise decisions and weigh pros and cons. The number of vehicle burglaries goes up during the Christmas shopping season. There are more cars, and the criminals know the payoff is much higher when people are out shopping all day for gifts. A thief stealing gifts, sucks. A thief stealing your gun sucks even more!

If you simply must leave your gun in the car (and again, avoid doing it at all costs) please consider something like this safe from Console Vault.


I hope this post helps you stay safe during your Christmas shopping. Of course, you can always do some online shopping and save the hassle. Check out our 12-Days-of-Christmas that is currently live.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. shootshellz on December 17, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    NEVER store your firearms inside of your vehicle, EVER, PERIOD, END OF STORY. In a 33+ year career as a street cop in a large Pacific Northwest city I took dozens and dozens of car prowl reports in which a firearm was stolen. ALL vehicle lock boxes are a JOKE and can be EASILY defeated by a prybar, hammer, or large screwdriver. And unless a store/mall has metal detectors, your firearm ‘prints’, or you blab, who in the world is going to know you carry a concealed handgun?

    • Jen on December 19, 2022 at 9:18 am

      I totally agree with this! What is the point of having a CCL if we leave our weapons in the car? Unless I go through a metal detector, it will be on my person. In this day and age I would be crazy not to.

  2. Biejay on December 28, 2022 at 4:45 am

    We should all take the example of a young man named Eli Dickens. He saved countless lives by being prepared despite the preposterous laws/rules concerning carrying in a mall.

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