Who Wins, Who Actually Loses, When Firearms Owners And Businesses Are Banned From the Premises?

By T. Dave Gowan, Ph.D.

Recently, one major U.S. bank toyed with the idea of closing all its accounts with customers who owned firearms-related businesses. Another chain of banks, and several businesses, established policies which banned concealed carry of firearms on their premises. Other businesses have adopted spokespersons or advertising actors who have openly spoken out against firearms owners. Some businesses have allowed fringe groups to put up kiosks or pamphlets on their premises opposing gun ownership. Many of these quickly withdrew or denied the policies in the face of strong and immediate pressure from firearms owners.

Who gains by such ban policies, and who loses? Are these policies effective in any way? Surely they garner publicity in the newspapers, magazines and TV reports. Anti-gun customers are happy, but they don't take action against the businesses because of it. The newspapers gain a little in stature when a business supports their views. Do these business policies prevent any firearms-related crime? Or do they affect only law-abiding customers?

Let's examine two scenarios, those of a citizen who carries a concealed weapon with a permit, and a criminal who carries a gun (certainly without a permit). A bank posts a sign on the doors of every branch saying "No Firearms Allowed". A customer approaches the door. She is a normally law-abiding citizen who carries a concealed weapon with a permit for good reasons; she has been mugged in the past. She sees the sign on the door. Does she enter? No, but she realizes she can't do business with the bank if she can't enter the premises. This time, she removes the firearm to her car, enters the bank and does business, and as soon as possible moves her savings, checking, and investment accounts to another bank. Later that day, two men drive up near the bank door, and double park with the engine running. One emerges with a concealed firearm and a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses and approaches the door. He sees the No Firearms Allowed sign, and says to himself, Gee, I can't carry my gun in there. I guess we'll have to go down the street and rob that other bank. Do they leave and go rob the other bank? The robber who reads the sign laughs to himself, robs the bank anyway, scares 15 customers in the bank, then brags to his friends afterwards about the stupid sign the bank put in the door. Do robbers target businesses with these signs in the door over ones which have no stated policy against firearms owners? You betcha. It's safer to target a business for robbery which has a "No concealed carry" sign in the door than one which doesn't.

The irony is that in the attempt to make themselves look good to the liberal media, corporations create self-defeating policies: Many of the desirable customers they want to keep take their business elsewhere because of the policy - and they tell other customers about it who also leave. And the people you'd rather not have on the premises of your business aren't deterred by the policy at all, they're actually encouraged to visit. Another irony is that when the media report the new policy, more firearms owners and criminals read the news. Customers leave, criminals arrive to victimize the business and its customers.

Who is actually deterred by the sign? And how much are they deterred? Certainly only customers are deterred. The firearm-owning or -carrying customer takes his business elsewhere, and reports his experiences to other firearms owners via his club or state shooting association email listserver. The listserver forwards a copy of the message to its members and to 49 other state shooting associations. Members of these associations read the message and forward them to shooting clubs, hunting clubs, social clubs and friends, who forward them in turn.

Who responds negatively to businesses discriminating against firearms owners and businesses? All gun owners do. Liberal newspapers portray NRA members as plaid-shirted, grass-stem-sucking, kill-everything country hicks. The newspapers are naive and they lie. The establishment media's contempt for gun owners is so intense that the veracity of their stories are of little import. Actually, the ranks of the NRA include the complete spectrum of U.S. society in approximately the same ratios, but are weighted more heavily towards service veterans, street-level police men and women, and people who traditionally hunted and carried firearms in daily life--normal, law-abiding people. They include government bureaucrats and managers, teachers, lawyers, bankers, and (frequently secretly, as here in Tallahassee) newspaper staff and editors. They also include investors. NRA members are heavily registered to vote, sensitive to encroachment on their rights, and they vote and they boycott in great numbers. They don't necessarily take their marching orders from the NRA, but they take heed when NRA announces political candidate rankings and they forward the news. NRA members know that many politicians that want to ban guns also own them and carry them privately for self-protection.

If your business puts up the ban sign, they won't be dealing with many NRA members --interestingly, most NRA sympathizers are not NRA members. These include the most of the large mass of Americans who hunt and fish. Firearms owners are extremely well-connected, with web pages, clubs, businesses organizations, associations and grassroots groups all tied together by an array of email listservers and newsletters which spread the word. It's a serious misjudgment, that the media make, in blaming things on the NRA, when it's actually firearms owners and other local organizations who make the moves. Firearms owners also belong to organizations like Gun Owners of America, the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners' Action League, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, the Lawyers' Second Amendment Society, Women Against Gun Control, the Constitution Society, the Fully Informed Jury Association, many state shooting associations and clubs. The NRA provides training, sanctioning for competitive shooting events, political reports, and simply connects them all the groups and hunters together with news.

What motivates firearms owners? They are cognizant of a constitutional right. They grew up hunting and don't want to lose their quality of life. They are aware the police won't be there when they are needed, but will show up to take the reports later. They know the police avoid the responsibility for protecting individuals and that the Supreme Court has allowed this. They know they increasingly have to rely on themselves for self-protection, so many carry weapons, with or without a permit. They know that the cities with the highest rates of gun control have the highest rates of serious gun crime because criminals and gangsters don't obey the laws--and that this is now being reflected in emerging crime trends in Australia and England, where firearms were recently confiscated from citizens who were law-abiding enough to turn theirs in. They know that where carry of firearms is allowed crime rates slump, and that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens frequently save lives and deter crime, though these facts are never reported by the media.

Many firearms owners have read the small 1998 book, More Guns Less Crime, by Professor John Lott. This book examined the relationship between government (not NRA's) statistics on serious crime rates, and concealed carry laws in each state, and demonstrated that concealed carry permitting decreases crime rates. What happened when "shall-issue carry legislation" passed in a few states, allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons? Did crime soar, as the nut gun-banners had predicted? No. Nowhere. In Florida, the first state with a good-sized criminal class to pass a "shall-issue" carry law, the murder and serious crime rates roared downhill instead. Trends in all other states with "shall-issue" carry permitting have consistently been the same. Those who work for the news media fail to understand or deliberately ignore an important fact: In America, violent crime rates decrease when gun ownership rates increase.

Are there business opportunities in accommodating firearms owners? There are many. Firearms owners experience discrimination by uninformed businesses every day. Some is inadvertent, some is deliberate. Such discrimination is always reported immediately and attacked by firearms owners, and opportunities are created for competing businesses by firearms owners looking for substitutes. Any business facing tight competition from many others in a well-defined market can expand its market share by taking advantage of the niche created by firearms owners looking for services. One such corporation is Wal-Mart, which provides many a citizen an introduction to sport shooting, hunting and competitive shooting; the chain sells sporting firearms and supplies, and firearms owners and their families and friends are particularly loyal to the corporation.

A good example of a business niche needing filling is in the parcel delivery business. One major parcel service tacked on unnecessary extra charges for shipping gunpowder (used by competitive shooters and hunters for legal purposes) and firearms. Other shipping companies have taken advantage and followed suit. Then the major company began requiring shipped firearms to have special labels on them. This had the effect of identifying them to criminals among their employees, who removed the parcels and took them home. In the face of mounting losses of parcels containing firearms, and higher insurance costs, the company instead charged higher shipping fees to customers and required the parcels be shipped by the most costly means. Instead of addressing the real problem, the companies attacked their own customers. Faced with follow-on by other shipping companies, firearms owners around the US are looking for a single parcel shipper willing to support firearms owners and businesses. All a business has to do is announce the fact and the customers will come.

Examples of businesses with clear biases against firearms owners include many news magazines, newspapers, shippers, banks, and one major computer seller. Firearms owners are looking for the chance to embrace new companies providing these services. Do you need new customers? All your company has to do is announce that you want them. Send the message, We Believe in the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, to a shooting association listserver, like FSSA-Talk at tfn.net (insert the @ character and remove the spaces).

The author specifically requests that LEOs convey this important information to their local businesses.

This article is Copyright 2000 in the Public Domain by T. Dave Gowan, No Rights Reserved. Use it however you want.

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