Monday, July 16, 2012

The Second Amendment, Businesses, and Property Rights

Before I get started, let me tell you some things about me that I don't think I've come out and said before. I am a card-carrying Life Member of the NRA, and am in the process of upgrading to Endowment Member. I have a concealed carry permit issued by the state in which I live, and carry when I leave the house. On a side note, my state allows permit holders to carry their weapons openly in public, which I normally do. I own a pistol and two working shotguns and shoot them regularly. I say this so the accusation of "left-wing anti-gun nut" can't be thrown my way after I finish this post.

I have seen a lot of talk on different forums, and heard a lot of talk among friends and acquaintances concerning where they have a "right" to carry their weapons. Yes, if you have a permit, the state cannot prevent you from carrying you weapon in accordance with their permitting laws, however, private business owners still have their own individual property rights. Should a business owner or their designated representative, usually management, ask that weapons not be carried in their establishment they have the right to do so, and we should comply. It's the same as allowing or not allowing smoking inside a private business in those states who haven't criminalized smoking outside the home already: it's up to the business owner to allow or not allow it. If a business owner didn't allow cell phones, or purses, or ugly shoes inside then that is their business, their property, their right. We should recognize they are exercising their rights, the way we want to exercise ours.

That being said, I do support "Safe Commute" laws. These laws are written to allow employees of a business that otherwise bans employees from carrying weapons on the property to leave their weapons properly secured in their cars if they park in an otherwise public parking lot. The way I understand it, if the parking lot is gated or requires ID or a special vehicle sticker to enter, then the safe commute law does not apply. The seeming contradiction in my positions is easily explained: the business owner/employer has the right, through their private property, to say I can't carry my weapon, but they do not have the right to require that I be defenseless on my way to and from work. I find it hard to believe that any employer's insurance policy would cover damages as a result of being unarmed during a commute, and I doubt there is a court in the country that would award damages in the same situation. So, we don't carry our weapons while at work, but we have them in our cars for the ride to and from home.

What do you do if you live in a state that does not have a safe commute law? Write your state representatives, write the Governor, join the NRA, make sure you participate and your voice is heard. What do you do if a business decides to prohibit the legal carry of your firearm? Vote with your feet and your cash and go somewhere else. Tell them they aren't getting your business and why. Be polite. Be respectful. Then go somewhere else. Tell your friends they don't allow permit holders to carry on their property and spread the word. Lobby for state laws that require prominent signage outside of businesses stating they do not allow permit holders to carry weapons. What you DO NOT do is be an asshat. Do not harass owners and managers. Do not "try to get away with it" or some other stupid stunt. Remember that statistics and logic are on our side. We have evidence that increased numbers of gun owners and permit holders does correlate to a decrease in crime. We are winning battles on a regular basis regarding the normalization of gun ownership. We are not typically seen by ordinary Americans as "gun nuts" anymore. People will come around. Be vigilant, but be patient, and respect the private property rights of business owners.

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