WASHINGTON, May 27, 2014 — Last week Chipotle, the maker of delicious burritos, asked American gun owners to leave their weapons at home. This comes after Starbucks, purveyor of overpriced coffee, asked those who wanted to exercise their Second Amendment rights do so on someone else’s property. Now Chili’s, fryer of mozzarella sticks, and Sonic, the most elusive restaurant chain on the planet, seem as though they will soon follow suit.
The problem is not Moms Demand Action, or Mayors Against Illegal Guns, or Everytown for Gun Safety, or Mother Jones, or the Huffington Post. The problem is gun owners.
We, the gun owning American public, are mostly at fault for the chain of events which has seen several highly visited establishments with nationwide popularity institute, or contemplate instituting, policies which would make their businesses “gun-free.”
The how of this is insanely simple.
READ ALSO: Chipotle goes gun free
The Second Amendment guarantees the natural right of man to arm himself in defense of self and tyranny. This has been upheld by the Supreme Court, this has been upheld in Congress, and it has been upheld by the words of the Founding Fathers themselves. But the Second Amendment simply restricts the ability of the government to infringe upon your rights; it stops the government from telling you what you can and cannot do with your weapon. The government does this on an hourly basis, but that is the spirit of the law and restrictions surrounding the Second Amendment.
But it says nothing of private industry and the rights of property owners.
Business and property owners have the right to do on their property as they see fit, including setting the rules concerning firearms. Businesses, like homeowners, are within their rights to tell you to disarm before you set foot on their property. The same laws which guarantee your right to own and carry firearms protect their right to govern their businesses and properties as they see fit. You have no right to tell a property owner otherwise.
It is completely wrong of gun control proponents to demand that stores such as Staples and Office Depot shut their doors to gun owners because they feel “uncomfortable” around those who carry firearms. A person’s right to carry a firearm trumps your right to feel “comfortable,” and demanding that a company change its policy because you want a gun-free zone in their store is tantamount to the same intimidation and spoiled entitlement displayed by the gun-owners.
For Moms Demand Action to write letters threatening nationwide protests because they don’t want to be around gun owners is as wrong as open carrying individuals demanding that stores respect their rights, when stores have no obligation to do so.
There is a fatal flaw in the approach of gun owners and open carry protesters who are trying to have their right to protect themselves respected in businesses around the country. If what they are trying to do is noble, they are actually hurting themselves and the pro-gun movement. They are doing that by putting business in for all their chips.
They are forcing businesses to take sides in a debate that they may not even have previously been a part of.
If you stage an open carry protest at a Chipotle, you are forcing Chipotle to choose between gun owners and non-gun owners. If their clientele were drawn at random from the population, roughly 40 percent of their business would come from gun owners, and 60 percent from non-gun owners. If a business were forced to choose between the 40 percent and the 60 percent, it would make sense to choose the 60 percent.
Those numbers are crude, they don’t represent the exact demographic of Chipotle addicts, and some non-gun owners don’t care if other customers carry. But this is the sort of calculation the corporation is going to use to decide their best course of action. And their best course of action is to side with the demographic that has the biggest impact during a boycott.
A boycott is an expression of economic choice, your power in a capitalist free market. Most gun owners are conservatives. Conservatives believe in the free market and the power of choice driving markets to bend companies and corporations to make rational decisions about earning profits. If gun owners want their voices heard, they need to rely on market forces, not on openly armed individuals showing up to stores who will inevitably turn business away.
This is not the early 1800’s; most Americans are uncomfortable or unwilling to be around heavily armed people who are not police or military. They will avoid stores full of openly armed people. Put yourself between a company and its profits and you will lose; gun owners have lost at Starbucks, Chipotle, and soon Chili’s and Sonic.
So instead of open carry protests, don’t protest. Just don’t go. If a company is thinking about banning firearms on their property, make it known that you don’t like their decision by hurting their bottom line. Post on your site, make your group’s intentions known, and as a group, boycott the business. Influence their policies with your spending decisions. If Chipotle does not allow firearms, go to Qdoba, or Moe’s. If Starbuck’s does not allow firearms, good. You shouldn’t be giving over your first born child for a coffee with twelve syllables anyway.
Showing up armed to the teeth to protest carrying restrictions on private property can easily be portrayed as intimidation and bullying by the left. It does far more harm than good in the eyes of the public and in terms of getting your message across. This is still a somewhat capitalist country; your dollars speak louder than your words do.
Students of history and politics will remember what Teddy Roosevelt said about his foreign policy, in particular his corollary to the Monroe Doctrine: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”
To paraphrase, gun owners should embrace a new motto: “Speak softly, and spend your money elsewhere.”
Take our survey on “gun-free” businesses (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RS5NX2P).
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