Knoxville, TN: Armed and Ready
Vol Market owners carry handguns openly to deter crime
At the Vol Market No. 3 on Western Avenue, the person preparing your food, cashing your check or ringing you up at the register likely will be wearing a holstered handgun on their hip.
But unlike most Tennesseans who have a handgun carry permit, Vol Market owners have decided that open display as a visual deterrent is preferable to concealment as final protection.
The guns are an absolute last resort, said Alan Frye, 32, whose father, "Stormin' " Norman Frye, started the Vol Market chain years ago and operated the one on Cumberland Avenue for many years.
"This is a challenge to anybody," said Alan Frye. "We're just protecting what we have worked long and hard for, and protecting our customers. We don't want to shoot anybody. But we couldn't be in this business without the pistols."
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The state does not track how many business owners with carry permits who openly display firearms. Authorities say there are probably not many. But the Vol Market folks are not alone.
Knoxville Police Dept. Lt. Eddie Biggs said some pawn shop owners wear handguns openly.
In addition to its thriving food and deli business, Vol Market has a check-cashing service, which requires a lot of cash be on hand to cash payroll checks for customers.
Store employees have been carrying guns openly after the 1996 carry permit law went into effect. Since then, it has not been robbed but was burglarized three times. And several persons who tried to cash stolen checks were detained by employees until police arrived.
"We are not trying to be police officers, we just want to protect what is ours," said Frye's co-owner, Rich Nichols, 32. "We've never had to draw the guns."
At any given time, at least two armed people will be in the store, Frye and Nichols said. Going armed is not mandatory, and some employees are never armed.
About 75 to 80 percent of their business is from regular customers, and none has expressed apprehension about the guns, the owners said.
"Some customers, after they've cashed a big check, will ask us to escort them to their cars, and we are glad to do it," Nichols said.
The training course for a carry permit includes reminders that the gun can be used only in the case of imminent threat to their lives or the lives of another.
"So if someone wants to come in here and scuffle, we've still got baseball bats and axe handles for that," Nichols said.
John Lott, a former economics and law professor at the University of Chicago, is the author of "More Guns, Less Crime." He said states that issue the most handgun carry permits generally have the biggest drop in violent crime, but the value of carrying weapons in the open versus concealing them not been thoroughly studied.
"My guess is that criminals are more likely to stay away from stores that have (guns openly displayed)," or will just take out the armed employee first, he said. But from among a group of people who may have concealed guns, a criminal would have the disadvantage of not knowing who might be armed and willing to defend themselves.
"Minnesota recently adopted a concealed carry law, and some businesses put up signs proclaiming that they were 'gun free,' " Lott said. "A couple of those stores have been robbed. So there has been a move among some store owners to reconsider advertising the fact that they are not armed."
OFCC PAC Commentary:
Tennessee is one of 44 states which recognizes the right of it's citizens to bear arms for self-defense. That state's right-to-carry law passed in 1996, and has been liberalized several times since then to make obtaining a license easier, and to make carrying a firearm legal in more places.
And similar to what is now occurring in Minnesota and Colorado, anti-self-defense extremists went on a major campaign to get businesses to ban licenseholders from their property after they lost the legislative battle. TN's law originally made CCW illegal in any establishment with license to sell beer.
At the suggestion of the extremists', one restaurant chain - Captain D's - filed for a license to sell beer. The beverage was never listed on the restaurant's menus, but customers were summarily rendered defenseless.
Again, as is happening in Minnesota and Colorado to businesses who are advertising the fact that they are not armed, Captain D's learned it's lesson the hard way - suffering from multiple robberies and the brutal slayings of several employees. The restaurant chain no longer denies the right of self-defense to it's customers.
How many more times will we have to read headlines like this in Ohio, even after HB12 is made into law, due to the actions of anti-self-defense extremist groups?
Wendy's worker killed by would-be robber - Sept. 1, 2003
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A fast-food worker shot by a would-be robber through a pickup window has died of a chest wound.
Police said the shooting occurred Saturday night after the Wendy's dining room had closed and the drive-through window remained open.
The gunman was unable to climb into the restaurant through the pickup window and shot Scott Knouf, 27, a shift supervisor in training, police said. He died on Sunday at Riverside Methodist Hospitals.
The suspect fled without any money.
"Scott had his hands in the air. He was not showing any signs of ill will toward the suspect," said Denny Lynch, a spokesman at Wendy's headquarters in suburban Dublin.
Police said there were three other employees in the restaurant but none saw the shooting. One was grazed on the head by a bullet and was treated at the scene.
Detective James Gravett said the crime appears to be random.
Let's hope Ohio's business owners are wise enough to look at the overwhelming evidence from other states before they take the advice of anti-self-defense extremists and advertise their vulnerability.
Click here to read the story in the Knoxville News-Sentinel.