What Business Owners Need to Know About CCW

By Chad D. Baus

After failing to scare business lobbyists into the fight in 2003, and after losing in the legislative arena, gun ban lobbyists are now hoping to convince business owners to discriminate against employees and customers who choose to obtain a concealed handgun license (CHL) for self-protection.

As was the case throughout the legislative debate on this issue, we are again tasked with answering baseless warnings about issues that have simply not arisen in the 36 states which have laws similar to Ohio's.

Questions that Have Answers:

What is it about some in Ohio who can't seem to be bothered with looking at our neighbors for answers to many of their questions? Every state that borders Ohio has a law similar to the one that has now passed here. We are certainly not breaking new ground with a concealed carry reform bill in Ohio.

We encourage concerned business owners to inquire among your counterparts in every state that borders Ohio. In doing so, you will learn that the opponents of this law continue to peddle fears which have no basis in reality: not in Indiana, where concealed carry has been legal for nearly 80 years; not in Michigan, where these same arguments were made before passage of similar reforms; not in Kentucky, which does not offer businesses the blanket immunity which Ohio does; and not in Pennsylvania, where NO training is required for persons to obtain a license.

There are no credible studies that show increased dangers to businesses because of concealed carry, yet many prove the benefits.

As families of victims of two Ohio public shootings at Case Western Reserve University and Watkins Motor Lines trucking company are painfully aware, Ohio's concealed carry ban has done more to effect businesses than the lifting of the ban via the new CHL law ever will:

Ohio businesses more prone to armed robberies welcome the idea of having more of the "good-guys" in their establishments. Take the Columbus-based Ohio Association of Convenience Stores, for instance:

The group is represented by the 3,300-member Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, and Josh Sanders, legislative affairs director for the group, told Columbus Business First magazine that mom-and-pop owners like the idea of being able to conceal a weapon for defense of self and property.

REQUIRED READING: Op-ed: The False Hope of Gun-Free Zones

Also, an eye-opening study course has been added to the Buckeye Firearms Association Education Guide.

T. Dave Gowan, Ph.D., asks and answers the following questions:

  • Who gains by [gun] ban policies, and who loses?
  • Are these policies effective in any way?
  • Do these business policies prevent any firearms-related crime?
  • Or do they affect only law-abiding customers?

WARNING: Out-of-state companies mislead Ohio businesses to peddle ''no-guns'' signs

Learning from other states' experience

Nationally-renowned Charleston (SC) Police Chief Reuben Greenberg told a group of business owners, frustrated by a rash of robberies, that one particular downtown business in a high-crime area hasn't been held up in 20 years because the owner and employees, including the guy mopping the floor, are armed. Try as they might, and great as they are, law enforcement is still most often relegated to cleaning up after the crime has occurred, rather than actually preventing it from happening. As Greenberg put it, "this is the kind of world [we] live in."

Business owners in other states have taken such advice to heart: Vol Market owners carry handguns openly to deter crime

Once again, there are no credible studies that show increased dangers to businesses because of concealed carry, yet many prove the benefits.

How do your customers and employees really feel about Right-To-Carry?

In a pre-9/11 poll, 67% of Ohioans said they preferred a CCW law that had training and background checks. Yet this isn't what we've been hearing from the gun ban lobby, now is it?

The highly respected research firm Zogby International has conducted the first installment of its 2004 Zogby Values Poll, surveying 1,200 voters nationwide on issues that included firearms and hunting. Working with the Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University and the O`Leary Report, Zogby`s questions interestingly examine differences in thinking between people living in the states that voted for George Bush in 2000 (Red states) and Al Gore (Blue states).

After reading these results from Zogby, you'll have good reason to expect that 67% figure has gone up in Ohio, as the numbers have gone up nationwide. We certainly don't expect to be seeing these new findings in the national headlines this week. But it is BIG national news.

Nearly 99% of PAC supporters responding to a poll were opposed to the idea of businesses being able to ban firearms in their personal cars. In a separate poll, 97.5% of respondents indicated that they would refuse to shop at any business which bans their right to self-defense.

A recent study by Stephen Morgan, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Concordia University-St. Paul, found that "No-guns" signs cause negative reactions, and not just among CHL-holders. Why would businesses that spend tens, hundreds, or even millions of dollars to create an inviting shopping environment, and a positive company image, ruin it all by posting "no-guns" signs on their doors? Why would they create a policy which affirmatively creates, in the words of the Medina Police Chief, "easy pickings" for armed robbers in Ohio?

Leaving half a million shoppers aside for a moment, businesses concerned about repercussions from posting discriminatory signs should keep those Zogby results in mind: Voters "overwhelming favor these self-protection laws by a margin of 79% to 18%. Right-to-Carry drew better than 70% support in every demographic group, with even non-gun owners indicating their backing by 73% to 23%." Rather than risking repercussions from CHL-holders alone, business owners should realize that in posting a discriminatory prohibition, they will only be serving a small, vocal minority.

IS CRIME ON THE INCREASE IN POSTED BUSINESSES? Is advertising that customers and employees inside your business are defenseless really such a "safe" idea? Click to view the extensive list of crimes committed at "no-guns" businesses.

Would you hang this sign in your business? If you have a no-guns sign, you might as well be!

BUSINESSES ARE GETTING THE MESSAGE!: Click to view stories about businesses which have removed their signs and opened their doors to Ohio CHL-holders.

SIGNS ARE COMING DOWN!: Click here to view an extensive list of business that have removed these discriminatory signs!

The record from other states is clear: if Ohio's business leaders will simply ignore these hysterics and let this new law work, madmen will never again enjoy the luxury of walking into workplaces with assurance that their intended victims are defenseless.

Business owners: Download a letter from Buckeye Firearms Association's Business Education Coordinator

Op-eds on the subject of business and concealed carry, as printed in Crain's Cleveland Business magazine:
The Truth about Concealed Carry and Business

The Crain's Cleveland Business prints my response to anti-ccw editorial

  1. Liability concerns? 
    1. ADVISORY: No Firearms Allowed? Businesses Incur Extraordinary Liability (Ohio businesses will ignore this advisory at their own risk!) To gauge exactly how much risk businesses face, we would invite business owners to call Bittersweet Annie's, Brummer's Homemade Chocolates & Candies, Jan's Added Touch, Lee's Landing, Liberty/Music Box, RJ Antiques & Collectibles, Main St. Soda Grill, Nemo's Subs, Tactical Edge Paintball Shop, or Vermilion Hardware. These Vermilion, Ohio shops played host to seventy openly armed shoppers in December 2003. They experienced a much higher saturation of armed shoppers than any store will ever face on a daily basis, and there was not one single problem. Afterwards, they all said how much they enjoyed these customers being there, and asked when we would be coming back.

      If, despite the wealth of facts from other states and from our own, business owners still feel threatened by warnings that HB12 does not offer enough immunity from liability, should they allow firearms on their property, they must also realize that this same immunity clause recognizes the potential for liability if they prevent a law-abiding citizen the right to self-defense while traveling to and from, or while inside, their place of business (for more, see this Extraordinary Liability Advisory.

      Consider this: Upon passage of Tennessee's concealed carry law in 1995, the Captain D's restaurant chain made a decision to ban CHL-holders from their restaurants. Rather than posting discriminatory signs, which they feared would drive away business, the chain obtained a liquor-by-the-drink permit, and placed beer buckets in their front windows. They did NOT place their new product on the menu! After a series of extremely violent robberies and murders of employees in several fast-food stores (which became known in the media as "the Captain D's murders", the restaurant chain quietly removed their beer buckets. Thankfully, this loophole does not exist in Ohio - businesses must actually be dispensing liquor-by-the-drink, not just be in possession of a Class D license.

  2. Parking lot ban? 
    1. Certain business lobbyists fought for the provision in HB12 which allows businesses to tell CHL-holders what they may (not) keep in their personal cars while in the business parking lot. Did any of these lobbyists think to call the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce before demanding this amendment in the Senate? Did they ask if there have been problems with liability or insurance issues, or with compliance to OSHA standards, or with ANYTHING at all to do with the Kentucky parking lot exception? NO. But we did:

      Kentucky has a parking lot exemption for businesses in their CCW law, which was passed in 1996. Mr. Jeff Alan, Director of Legislative Education in the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, has told OFCC that they did not oppose this language when the bill was being considered. Further, he said that in the 7 years since the law was passed, they haven't had EVEN ONE report of a business having troubles with the parking lot exemption. What's more, there is no history of any litigation on the issue. Mr. Jim Ford, Director of Business Education, travels around the state to businesses large and small. He concurred with Mr. Alan.

      The thing to keep in mind here is this: Kentucky's law, unlike HB12, does not give KY businesses the blanket immunity that HB12 does. So what do Ohio's business lobbyists have to fear? Nothing. Once again, we are reduced in this debate to arguing about the "what-ifs", as if there is no wealth of experience from which to answer the questions.

      During debate on HB12 in the Senate, we suggested that businesses who choose to ban license-holders also lose their civil immunity. It is our position that businesses should have to face the legal consequences of rendering their customers and employees defenseless as they travel to and from that place of business. Because once again, experience proves unarmed citizens are much more likely to be injured (or worse) when attacked) than someone who defends themself.

      By having a policy banning firearms from employee's cars in parking lots, a business might in fact waive their immunity, in the event an employee is attacked on their way to or from work. Only by NOT having a policy can a business be ceratain it has immunity, since "ommission cannot be malicious".

  3. OSHA conflict? 
    1. Prominent business lobbyists in Ohio offered Senate testimony against HB12 in 2003, inferring that CCW at work would create an OSHA* (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) concern. Perhaps they should have checked with OSHA, as we did! Jeff Lewis, Safety and Occupational Health Manager, of Region 6 of OSHA, has told Ohioans For Concealed Carry that OSHA has no policy or the authority to regulate firearms in the workplace. Should an employer choose to allow firearms in the workplace, Lewis says, he would be under no violation of any OSHA regulation or guideline.

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