Victim Zones: We have to move the goal posts

By Gerard Valentino

Two more businesses where legal concealed carry is banned were robbed last week in Ohio. A BMV office on the east side of Columbus (a victim zone by statute) was robbed on the same day as a branch of Fifth Third Bank, which is a "gun free" zone due to the company’s private policy.

Clearly, it doesn’t matter why concealed carry is forbidden at a location, because the results are usually the same. Only the criminal will be armed despite the signs or laws that ban ownership of firearms to people with a felony conviction. In both of these cases the patrons were left at the whim of a street thug because honest people follow the law and criminals don’t.

An email on the subject sent by a Buckeye Firearms Association volunteer said it best, “silly criminal must be illiterate and didn’t read the no-guns signs.”

The email was a funny, tongue-in-cheek way to state what everyone who thinks logically already knows. Criminals aren’t going to bother following a sign that tells them they can’t bring a gun into a place they are going to rob. At best they ignore the sign and at worst see it as an invitation because they know nobody inside can stop them. Anti-gun advocates claim criminals aren’t that discerning when they pick a location for a robbery, but evidence shows they usually try to find a soft target.

It isn’t a coincidence that nearly all spree killings take place in a victim zone like the workplace, schools or government buildings. They pick that will make their job easier and we know they see going to prison as a risk of doing business, but the risk of an armed victims as unacceptable.

The sad truth is there are some corporate cultures in Ohio where guns simply are not going to be tolerated - and there is little gun advocates can do to change that. The powers that be at places like Fifth Third Bank, Half Price Books, and others, have been told thousands of times that banning guns only keeps honest people who carry a gun from frequenting their business.

None of the explanations matter to a business owner who wants to avoid a confrontation over the gun issue. To that end they often make outlandish claims as to why they discriminate against honest citizens who carry a gun. The most common are that their insurance company requires they ban guns or they say some other outside source, like the police, told them they have to do so.

Recently, a Buckeye Firearms Association volunteer was told by his doctor that all medical buildings are required to post a no guns sign, which is simply not true. The doctor has to be given credit since it’s an excuse we hadn’t heard before.

The sad truth is if a business wants to discriminate against license holders there is nothing pro-gun advocates can do to stop them. For places like Half Priced Books, the managerial decision makers have said they would rather go out of business than allow honest people to carry guns inside their stores. That is their prerogative. But it is our prerogative not to do business with places who do not want to associate with gun owners.

Progressive business owners see that discriminating against gun owners is no different than any other form of discrimination and won’t alienate such a large segment of society. If hunters, target shooters and people who own guns for self-defense banded together and refused to do business with places that discriminate against them it would put those stores out of business. Even if only half of the gun owners in Ohio voted with their pocketbooks it would do the same. But, I know dedicated gun advocates who still shop at stores where legal concealed carry is banned.

To be fair it is nearly impossible to only shop at places where gun ownership is welcome since even the friendliest stores probably partner at some level with an anti-gun business, whether it is an anti-gun supplier, insurance company or other associated business.

At a more general level, the gun issue rises above political parties and other partisan bickering because there are few political issues where people’s safety is obviously on the line. Without the right to self defense there is little other in life that matters. A good education, economic opportunities or the right to work are of little value if you’re scared to leave the house.

Getting much of the political world to realize that has proved to be a never-ending battle requiring diligence and dedication. Letting our guard down can ultimately allow the recent passage of sweeping pro-gun reform in Ohio to be swept away just like the anti-gun victories of the early 90’s are now a distant memory.

Ending the legally mandated gun free zones or those created by private polices is a solid first step in ending the ridiculous notion that criminals won’t take a gun somewhere because of a silly sign. The signs also have the consequence of creating the impression that there are places so sensitive as to be off-limits to legal concealed carry.

We know part of the anti-gun mantra about reasonable gun control is to ultimately move the goal posts until outright bans are defined that way. Getting rid of every single gun free zone moves the goal posts in our direction and makes the anti-gunners job that much harder. Losing our rights was an incremental process and getting them back has proved to be an incremental fight.

It isn’t how pro-gun advocates want our fight to progress. But there is little we can do to change the battle since if we try to move the ball down field in one big play, it puts the players at risk.

The most common examples of living in denial are the people who say they don’t need a license to exercise their rights and therefore choose to carry a concealed gun without going through the licensing process. There isn’t anyone with Buckeye Firearms Association who disagrees with that basic belief. The problem comes in when the person exercising their rights is arrested, stands trial, and is convicted of illegally carrying a gun. Each time it happens it solidifies the belief that it is acceptable for otherwise honest law-abiding people to be put in jail for carrying a gun.

It isn’t right - but it is the hand we’ve been dealt.

In contrast each pro gun victory in the courts or legislature makes it seem acceptable for gun rights to be upheld or expanded. Putting an end to gun free zones in all their forms is a vital part of that battle. It will set the stage for employer parking lot bans that make it impossible for people to carry a gun to and from work as well.

They are the most immoral of the remaining gun related barriers since it gives employers the ability to control their employees while not on the clock. It has led to a cottage industry among criminals who look for commuters because they are most likely disarmed. The same way tourists were targeted in Florida after their concealed carry law passed and criminals figured out tourists were less likely to have a gun.

Failures of the anti-gun movement are obvious and well defined today since concealed carry laws nationwide are wildly successful. Even if the gun banner’s argument that such laws don’t reduce crime holds true it doesn’t matter since it is obvious that gun violence doesn’t increase when honest people carry guns.

That leaves the small anti-gun minority without a basis for arguing against concealed carry. Yelling fire in a crowded theatre is considered an acceptable infringement on the right to free speech since it puts people at risk for no appreciable benefit. As an individual right, owning a gun is susceptible to similar restrictions.

Since legal concealed carry isn’t a risk to public safety there is no successful argument for infringing on the individual right to bear arms. Not that logic or the rule of law will stop the anti-gunners from pushing their immoral agenda.

We do, as honest, law-abiding free people have a moral obligation to push back.

Gerard Valentino is the Buckeye Firearms Association Central Ohio Chair and writes for the

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