Winning the Battle and Losing the War

Dan Griffin

Over the past several years, organizations such as Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MDA, formerly One Million Moms for Gun Control) have pressured companies such as Starbucks and Panera to prohibit firearms in their businesses. Their latest target is Kroger brand stores.

While some companies have issued what amounts to meaningless statements saying that they request that patrons not carry firearms into their stores, others such as Walmart and Kroger have stated that they will follow state law and refuse to bend to the will of Bloomberg and his paid minions. In fact, the Demanding Moms have been formally ejected off of several properties, while no open or concealed firearms carriers have been similarly treated.

Even though some statements from some corporate headquarters have asked that people refrain from carrying firearms onto their properties, at the same time they have stated that they will not refuse to serve those patrons nor ask them to leave. These seem like nothing more than public relations statements issued to keep anti-freedom groups such as MDA at arm’s length.

However, despite no business actually prohibiting the carrying of firearms by patrons, many gun carriers, particularly open carriers, have stated that they will no longer patronize those businesses. They have elected to vote with their dollars and not reward those businesses because they didn’t take a strong enough stand for the Second Amendment.

In my opinion this is a mistake.

By refusing to carry their firearms into those stores who have never prohibited it, they are accomplishing through their own actions what MDA could not through all of their protesting and expensive ad campaigns. In their minds these gun owners are punishing the stores by not shopping there. In effect they may be winning the smaller, personal battle, but by doing so are losing the larger war. Remember, our fight is not against Panera or Starbucks, our fight is against MDA and Bloomberg and Everytown and the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence. Each of us may deny a store a few dollars profit, but the real message we would be sending to the public is that MDA controls the narrative and is winning.

Don’t give in to MDA.

What the public will see, what the businesses will see, and what the anti-gunners will see is that if they want guns banned or prohibited in stores, all they have to do is get in the news and they can effectively get them banned (even though they were never actually banned to begin with).

Some hard-liners assert that by shopping there we are rewarding bad behavior. That is, we are giving our money to stores who are not staunchly pro-Second Amendment. I strongly disagree with this view.

By not shopping there you are rewarding the bad behavior of the true enemies of freedom. The fact is that we should continue to shop and open carry in these places to show MDA for the pathetic, weak, anti-liberty organization that it is. Remember, none of these businesses banned guns. None put up “no guns” signs. None said they would ask you to leave if you carried a gun in their store. I repeat, none prohibited guns. I have a hard time listening to someone tell me how evil these companies are because some corporate mouthpiece put out a noncommittal public relations statement trying to placate both the pro-gun and anti-gun crowds. Remember, they could just have easily banned guns altogether, but they purposefully chose not to do so. Does that count for nothing? I would rather save my ire and withhold my money from businesses that actually prohibit firearms on their premises.

This is why “normalization” of open carry is important. We have to take the language back. Bearing arms is either a fundamental right or it is not. While the Demanding Moms keep shilling for non-binding policies in restaurants, we – slowly but surely – are winning where it matters, in the court houses and state houses. Let’s not let them think that by using pressure tactics they are winning in the court of public opinion and on the street when they are not.

It is important to publically resist MDA. The cries of “We have to do something!” and “It’s a good start” are nonstop. Simply prohibiting open carry, MDA’s current goal, accomplishes nothing and they know it. Just because one can’t see a gun doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. They full well know that shoppers could be carrying concealed and no one would be the wiser, but it’s one brick in the wall that they think they can move.

Much of the public are often not politically aware, and that provides MDA the opportunity to advance anti-2A policies, whether they be through legislation or influencing private business rules. Open carry can be prohibited, but relatively few people open carry. They know that getting open carry banned in no way mitigates what they see as “danger” because most people carry concealed. The next logical step is they must prohibit concealed carry to actually be “safe in public.”

Unfortunately even that isn’t all they have set their sights on. Their ultimate goal is an end to the private ownership of guns in the United States. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t read at least one article by someone or some group calling for the elimination of guns in the United States. One of the recent articles attempted to cast the United States in a bad light because we have a higher firearms suicide rate than Japan does. Their argument was that we should emulate Japan and eliminate the private ownership of guns. The problem with that argument, though, is that Japan actually has a higher overall suicide rate than the U.S., they just don’t use guns. Their statistic is meaningless, but they hope it sounds persuasive to people who aren’t critical thinkers. A few weeks ago the Tallahassee Democrat, a Gannett newspaper, flat out called for a gun ban and repeal of the Second Amendment.

Remember, the only gun control that will be even remotely effective is a complete, 100% gun ban. Back when groups like the National Coalition to Ban Handguns and Handgun Control Incorporated were new, they described a process whereby they were going to completely do away with handgun ownership by slowly adding one little restriction on top of another over a couple of decades. More than 40 years later they are still sticking to that strategy with new language and new tactics, but the target—destruction of the “gun culture” and the right to keep and bear arms—remains the same.

We in the pro-2A community often talk about bringing others into the fold, to turn antis into pro-2A people. We don’t shun others who are not rabidly anti-2A, we try to show them that gun owners are good. Why treat businesses any differently than we would someone personally who was on the fence about guns? We would try to encourage individuals to become pro-2A by giving them positive experiences with guns; we would talk to them, we would take them to the range. The same thing should apply to businesses. They haven’t banned us, they are ambivalent, or on the fence. Let’s try to encourage them to become pro-2A by giving them positive experiences with gun-owners, not make enemies of them.


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