Wednesday, October 28, 2015

'No Guns' Signs on Private Property: Carry Anyway?

Nevada is blessed in that in our state, ‘no guns’ signs on private property do not have the force of law. Only concealed carry is prohibited in public buildings with ‘no guns’ signs and in places like schools. You can basically carry almost anywhere in our state, unlike Texas, where a 30.06 sign makes it illegal to carry a firearm on private property. In Nevada, the only violation for refusing to leave or disarm when asked would be trespassing. 

A lot of American gun owners consider themselves to be libertarian or conservative and give the right of private property a lot of respect. As the right to private property should be respected the same way as the right to bear arms is, the question is, should gun owners respect the wishes of the business owner and not carry where guns aren’t wanted?

Anti-Carry Businesses

Examples of such business in Nevada are: Buffalo Wild Wings, Ethel M Chocolates, Red Robin and Raising Canes (Clark County franchises), most large malls, and most casinos. Casinos in a state owned by them shouldn’t really surprise anyone, and as long as we don’t have to pay state income tax, I suppose not openly carrying on casino property is acceptable.

The reasons for banning guns are usually based on liability concerns, that without such a warning, if a crime or accident occurs with a gun, the business can always point out that they had a sign banning firearms. Ideological bans are fairly rare and lately, with the very loud crowd of Mommies protesting open carry, businesses like Target, Starbucks, and Panera ban guns because of political correctness.

Raising Canes is one of the ‘image’ perception banners. Chief Marketing Officer Justin Micatrotto, “a proud gun owner”, qualified his support for the Second Amendment thusly:

"For us, it is a matter of perception for mothers with their children and while there is a large portion of guests who feel more comfortable knowing weapons are allowed in a public place, there is also a larger portion who do not." (Really Justin? Can I see some stats on that?)

"If a gun is concealed then it shouldn’t be an issue. [...] The sign protects us in the event someone is discussing their concealed weapon out loud or draws attention to the fact they are carrying in a concealed fashion. We then would approach the table and ask them to remove it from the premises."

"We are not asking you to compromise your families safety in the slightest but have this in place to provide an atmosphere/perception for those who are uncomfortable with the thought of guns being around them in public."

Justin’s objection is that guns might bother moms, kids, and anti-gun weenies. His concern is not  safety, nor does he think that robbers and gang members will be thwarted by the sign. To him, the sign gives his managers the authority to kick a gun owner out if they learn the person is carrying (and could potentially frighten weenies), despite the fact a business doesn’t need a warning sign to kick people out.

It would be acceptable to Justin for someone who has a concealed firearm permit to carry concealed and not talk about the fact they were carrying. He doesn’t want any of Shannon Watts’ moms getting scared. While his logic is pretty stupid, it begs a question: is it okay to subvert anti-gun business by concealed carrying anyway, like many carry everywhere hashtaggers suggest?

The Moral Question

As much as knowledgeable gun owners might disagree, a business or homeowner has the right to prohibit firearms on the premises. Americans have to respect all rights regardless of their opinions on the subject.

“This may sound like a contradiction for many conservatives. After all, most conservatives and gun owners are very supportive of rights in general and the right of private property owners to do what they want on their own property is no less important than our Second Amendment rights.” (wizbangblog)

In Nevada, this is not a question of law, but one of ethics. Is it more moral to respect private property and go unarmed than it is to protect one’s life if the need were to arise?

The right to private property is not absolute. Most laws still apply even behind closed doors. Businesses cannot prohibit customers on the basis of race, disability, etc. What if the sign said something else? “No Italians, Jews, Blacks, or Irish allowed.” Would you obey it or respect the owner’s right to discriminate on their property?

Life obviously has more value than private property rights. Imagine if the ‘no guns’ sign said “Self-defense prohibited,” or “Easy murder zone.” Since 1950, all but one public mass shooting occurred in a gun free zone. But no rational business owner would imagine posting that, nor would they think of posting “No murder, robbery, or violence permitted,” because it would work the same as an old man yelling at the rain to stop. Countless business with ‘no guns’ signs are victimized each year, proving that their prophylactic has a hole in it.

When was a teenager, I worked at a fast food restaurant in California. At the time, there was basically no way any civilian could have a gun in our store. We even had a little crossed out gun decal on the doors. As these things tend to happen, one night I turned around to see a Browning High Power in my face. I didn’t stop to think “Hey, didn’t they see the sign?!” or wish our franchisee had a policy prohibiting robberies.

Far too many stores feel that no-gun signs are some sort of safeguard against crime. I like to think of it of someone who wraps a talisman around their neck to ward off evil. It just makes you feel good. Okay, a Bible once stopped a bullet, but it didn’t magically keep the gun from being fired the same way the ‘no guns’ decal at Taco Bell didn’t keep me from being robbed. If you told an anti-gun business owner they might as well post a ‘no crime’ sign on the door, they’d laugh at you. By some sort of liberal voodoo, people think a ‘no guns’ sign will keep criminals away. The lunacy of this logic never occurs to them.

What should the gun owner do?

While life obviously has more value, a gun owner can simply choose to “vote with their feet” and patronize another, pro-gun business. Me and my gun go just about everywhere, so, no gun=no me.

Not going in shows respect for private property. It is an American value to respect someone’s choice to prohibit firearms, though you may disagree. Some citizen carriers honor the anti-gun business’s wishes by not going in at all; sort-of walking away quietly without protest. Others print and distribute ‘no gun/no money’ cards to give out. On the extreme is abandoning a shopping cart full of good when the manger approaches and asks you to come back next time unarmed.

The problem with the “screw you” approach is that it doesn’t get us anywhere. Many employees are just enforcing a short-sighted corporate policy out of fear of discipline. A lot of us (the author included) had a eureka moment when they understood what the whole no-compromise gun rights thing was about. By explaining yourself politely, you might convert that employee or business owner to our side. You can’t be the reason someone’s outlook changes if you immediately launch into an angry tirade.

Yet in some cases, going elsewhere is entirely unavoidable, such as visiting a casino or maybe this one product you just gotta have is at Mom’s Anti-Gun Bakery. Is it acceptable to carry concealed there anyway?

Businesses don’t have the right to dictate how you can exercise your natural right to self-defense. There is no moral question that one has a right to defend themself as they see fit, especially given the fact that businesses have no obligation to keep a customer from being victimized. I argue that since life is more important, it cancels out the right to private property, as the right to life is absolute. So if a gun owner persists in going to an anti-gun business, it is still morally permissible to carry concealed there.

In some cases, it’s hard to avoid places like movie theaters and casinos that don’t have gun-friendly alternatives. I don’t trust my life to a private security guard who has his job, in addition to his life, to worry about, much less my own, so I carry concealed in those times I have no other option. I’m not going to give up seeing Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens because I’m afraid of getting shot by the next James Holmes and Regal Cinemas wants to keep my gun out.

Then there are places like Target, which caved into the Mommies demand that open carry in Target stores be stopped. Target, trying to walk the middle ground, made everyone unhappy by ‘requesting’ that gun owners leave their guns at home when they shop at Target. Personally, I’ll avoid Target, but since it’s ‘optional’, if I have to go there, I’ll go armed anyway.

Some gun owners would question why you’re giving money to an anti-gun business—that there is some absolute that you shouldn’t go there. Does going anyway make you a sell-out to anti-gunners or in some way invalidate your support of gun rights? No, not at all. Just like concealed vs. open carry, it’s a personal choice.

Laws You Might See on Signs 

NRS 202.3673 Concealed Carry Prohibited in Posted Public Buildings (not a crime on private property)
NRS 206.140 Nuisance in Building
NRS 207.200 Trespassing


  1. I am about as pro 2nd amendment as you can get, but a private business owner can refuse service for any reason, even if that reason is not a good one. Conservatives need to be consistent, if a bakery can refuse to bake a gay wedding cake (it should be able to) then Starbucks can say no guns, even if it is a robbery invitation.

  2. No Gun Zones = I see Death Zones

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