Friday, July 9, 2010

Striking the Balance

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  Those are the words of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, recognizing the inalienable right for citizens of these United States to protect themselves.  The right to self defense is not a right granted by man.  It is a fundamental truth that people have the right to protect themselves and their loved ones from those who would seek to harm or destroy life.

As concealed pistol license (CPL) holders, we recognize this right and we practice it every time we carry a concealed weapon.  We may never have to draw the weapon or even think about it during our lives, but we practice our inalienable right to self preservation when we arm ourselves. 

Additionally, a CPL holder is a valued member of society.  The typical CPL holder is a law-abiding and respectful citizen.  We have respect for the laws in the land that we live in.  One reason I can easily say this is because we went through the hassle and expense to obtain the CPL in the first place.  If a person did not respect the laws as we do, they simply would not obtain the license and choose to violate the law. 

As respectful to the laws as we are, there is a balance that must be struck between blind submission to those laws and the practice of our right to protection.  Washington State laws are defined as to where you can, and cannot take a firearm (concealed or otherwise).  State and county buildings (such as court houses), post offices, federal buildings, school zones, etc are all perfect examples of cut and dry places you cannot carry a gun.  Most CPL holders don't give it a second thought and just leave the gun in the car when entering these areas.  Granted, we don't always like it, but we are respectful of the law and will abide by it because we are law-abiding citizens.

There is a difference between abiding by the laws of your city or state and obeying corporate policies established by companies.  In Washington State, the laws are clear as to where you cannot take a firearm.  But what about places like Ikea or Costco?  These locations do not allow concealed carry of firearms.  Costco's policy is a corporate policy, but I've never seen a sign up indicating it as such.  Ikea has a sign easily visible from the outside that clearly states "no guns allowed."  So, what is a CPL holder to do in cases where he or she would like to patronize a location that doesn't allow guns?

Let's make one thing clear.  Do you really think that signs like the one shown above are going to deter crime?  Do you honestly think a criminal intent on doing harm is going to obey a sign like that?  They are criminals for a reason, you know.  Chances are they will not obey the sign.  In fact, the sign itself may be an open invitation for them to do their "business" at the location it's at because nobody else is armed.  As the old cliche goes, "criminals prefer unarmed victims."  What better place to find unarmed victims than an establishment with a "no guns allowed" sign?

There is no law in Washington that says I must leave the guns in the car or at home when going into places of business or worship, even if a sign is posted.  Corporate policies are not the law of the land.  As a CPL holder, it is my duty to respect the laws as governed to me by the legislature - not Ikea.  

When I go out, I'm packin'.  There's just no argument.  I'm always armed.  I'm not the guy who says, "Well I'm going to the store really quick, so I don't need a gun."  I'm not the guy who claims, "It's just the movie theater - I won't need a gun there."  And I'm definitely not the guy who says, "I'm going to 7-11 to get some snacks, but I'd better take my gun, just in case."  I just put my gun on and go, and it doesn't matter where I go, I'm going to take the piece with me; unless I go to a school or a post office, or something like that.

When I go to Ikea, I'm still packin' heat.  Why?  Why not respect the policies of that store and just leave the gun at home?  Because I'm not required by law to do so, that's why.  As I said above, I respect the laws of Washington state.  I don't necessarily respect the corporate policies of places I patronize.  If Ikea or Costco found out that I was packing (highly unlikely, but shizz happens), what are they going to do - arrest me?  The most they can do is tell me to leave.  If they want to sue me, then they have to get the information out of me first.  That ain't gonna happen unless I'm violating a state law and the police need to arrest me.  Since I'm not in violation of state law, then guess what?  When they give me the "Sir, we are going to have to ask you to leave..." bit, I say "Fine, your loss" and I'm on my way.

I'm not going to boycott companies that have anti-gun policies.  That's stupid.  But since the right to keep and bear arms is recognized by the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution and the State Constitution, that's two legal documents superseding the policies of a company written by some lawyer to keep their insurance rates down.  If a company disagrees with me carrying a gun, then I just won't give them my business that day, and I'll be sure to make them hear about it in a passing remark on my way out of the store.

-James 

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