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Yesterday, I went to Toys R Us. As a regular reader of my own website, I knew that the toy emporium banned guns from their premises out of “an abundance of caution” for “children and families shopping with us.” Just in case I had any doubts whether or not my local Toys R Us was down with the ban, I clocked the sign outside their front door. Yup: “possession of firearms is prohibited on these premises.” So I had to make a choice: stow my XD-M in the glove box or break the law . . .

I am not a lawbreaker. Now that I don’t own a sports car, now that I’ve got a permit to carry a concealed weapon, I no longer fear the long arm of the law tapping on my shoulder. I am transformed! I am . . . Responsible Citizen Man! The One Who Never Parks Where It Is Not Legal to Do So Dude!

My initial response: put the gun away. Barbie and Call of Duty Black Ops await. And then I thought, well, what if something happens in there?

I know: the odds of walking into an active shooter situation at Toys R Us are lower than the odds of hitting the Powerball. This from a guy who only buys a ticket when the jackpot crests $100 million (otherwise, it’s not worth it). A fatalist who reckons if he did win Powerball, he’d probably get bitten by a shark and struck by lightning the same day.

As they say, common sense is not so common. Probably because it’s not so compelling. “It’ll never happen” is nowhere near as potent a thought as “what if it does?” In this case, if I did need my gun at Toys R Us and I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t blame Toys R Us. I’d blame myself. For the rest of my life.

As Glenn Beck and his ilk like to point out, the rights enshrined by the U.S. Constitution are not granted by the U.S. Constitution. They’re guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The rights are “inalienable.” No, Erich Von Daniken fans, they weren’t bestowed upon mankind by aliens. They were given to us by God.

I don’t need local, state, federal or Toys R Us laws to tell me that I have a right to protect my family. To quote Elwood Blues, I’m on a mission from God. Even if we ditch the religious thing, it’s still the same deal. A million years of evolution have hard-wired humans to protect their biological and assumed genetic legacy. It’s absurd to think I’d do anything else.

The question is: how am I going to do it? Armed or unarmed? Generally speaking, I’ve chosen armed. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit. That said . . .

My 19-round Springfield XD-M is only a part of my self-defense tool-kit. It’s not even the most important part. That honor belongs to situational awareness. Does everything look OK in Geoffrey Giraffe’s domain? Any weirdos? Where would be a good place to hide? That’s the kind of calculus that speaks to the sum (some?) of my fears.

So do I “need” a gun for self-defense? That depends on a bunch of variables completely beyond my control.

The most prominent of which is . . . the bad guy. (Armed as I am, I’m not the one out to hurt people.) There are three types of people who might put me in harm’s way at a Toys R Us (excluding bratty kids on skateboards and bikes): disgruntled employees, armed robbers and spree killers.

Of these, I’m most likely to encounter armed robbers. Click here for an example at the Stoneham, MA Toys R Us Express. Click here to read about an armed robbery at the Toys R Us in Vallejo, California, where police shot and killed one suspect. Click here for a Van Nuys, CA Toys R Us robbery involving three teens and a shotgun. Click here to discover a man who secretly lived inside a Toys R Us for seven months—and then robbed it at gunpoint.

And so on. As for the crazies, well, you’d have to be extra special nuts to be a Toys R Us spree killer. But maybe just sane enough to know that you won’t encounter anyone with a gun who can stop you. It’s that “gun free zone” thing that aggravates so many concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit holders—especially when they’re forced to place their children inside it.

Only Toys R Us is not a public school. I had–have a choice whether or not to take my children into Toys R Us. In theory. In practice, a seven-year-old and a 13-year-old are the dictionary definition of pester power. But I did have the option to leave my gun behind. Needless to say, I made the right choice. I left my gun behind.

I didn’t like doing it, and I’ll think twice about shopping at Toy R Us in the future. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do so you can do what you gotta do, later. If you know what I mean.

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  1. What is the law in your state as to being discovered with a handgun in Toys R Us? Must they first ask to leave and if you don’t they call the police and you are charged with what offense?

  2. I appreciate your article, I’ve carried concealed for 3+ years and I decided long ago that I’m not going to let someone else dictate the security needs of my family. I’d rather have my family members alive and me facing a court case, rather than have Toys R Us or any other entity providing condolences to me or my survivors.
    I definitely agree with situational awareness being the primary security tool. My wife and I have drilled the OODA loop into our childrens heads.
    And regarding the public school gun free zones…all I can say is homeschool.

  3. I just won’t shop there until they change their policy. The internet is a much easier place to shop, no one tries to disarm me and it is possible (difficult, but possible) to find toys that weren’t made in China.

  4. I think someone needs to tell the school shooters that guns are not allowed there and that they are breaking the law.

  5. When you say “breaking the law” by carrying into a business with a no firearms sign, that might not necessarily be true. Look carefully at your states gun laws to figure out where you stand. In GA I regularly carry into places with no firearms signs because signs hold no legal weight in Georgia. Basically if someone spots it on you, all management can do, should they chose to, is ask you to leave. If you comply and leave the premises that’s the end of that, you both move on with your lives as if it never happened. If you don’t, you face a trespassing charge complicated by your possession of a firearm. Again this is in GA.

    Honestly though, concealed means concealed. If you’re concerned about being made with a firearm in a no firearm store get a single stack sub-com 9 or 380 like an lcp/lc9, pf9 if you’re on a budget or pm9 or p238 if you’re not, or something along those lines. Plenty of iwb options or a pocket holster, and the only way someone will ever know you have it is if you have to use it.

  6. Robert, You’re not only a good man, you’re a good writer. You had me on the edge of my seat already preparing what I was going to say to you for so quickly getting into the bad laws be damned thing. But you surprised me, pleasantly.

    But, tell me if I’m wrong, it seemed to me that you’re paranoia, for lack of a better word, has ratcheted up a bit. The way you described those three possibilities, even while admitting they’re remote possibilities, sounded a bit over the top. Please tell me you were doing that on purpose just to surprise us in the end.

    I’m afraid it’s all too clear how your commenters feel about this, some of them anyway. They’re deeply into the old <Oh, my God, what if that happens to me thing. So deep is their fantasy that in many cases they actually become the dangerous ones.

    • Thanks for the back-handed compliment. I think. My paranoia’s just fine thanks, despite the fact that I just learned that I’ve been carrying a defective gun.

      • ” So deep is their fantasy that in many cases they actually become the dangerous ones.”

        Explain how they become the dangerous ones.

        • By being afraid of their own shadows, literally. Of course you’re probably one who denies that false DGUs ever occur. For you they’re all life-saving events.

        • “By being afraid of their own shadows, literally. Of course you’re probably one who denies that false DGUs ever occur. For you they’re all life-saving events.”

          I don’t know what a DGU is. I would like to know who is afraid of their own shadow.

    • Just cause we think about the possibility of someone causing us or our family members harm does not make one paranoid. Being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best affords you and yours more opportunities to better the outcome of any situation. I just replaced all my CO and smoke detectors 6 in all just because one went bad. Doesn’t mean there will be a fire but, I got marshmellows just in case, too. The most dangerous weapon in the world is found in the mind. Not using it is criminal.

      • Sure Javier, keep telling yourself that. The truth is, and I heard it from you guys when it suits your argument, that most gun violence is gang and drug related. Even some of the dreaded home invasions you guys keep preparing for are really drug and gang related. So unless you’re into that shit, your chances of needing the guns are minimal. So much so that the chances of misuse far outweigh the chances of your one day saving the day with your gun. To me that’s a lose-lose.

        • I carry no guns. I live in JOISY. I do carry myself but, as a father I plan to avoid the situations that put myself or my family in danger (to the best of my ability). I carry flashlights, jumper cables, ….. in my car. As for being the hero no thanks. I hope to be buried at a ripe old age without having to ever pull the trigger in my civilian life. Be aware that I have been the victim of a break-in at my home it took the police 30min to respond by which time I had already frightened off the guy without pulling the trigger. He got five years and to my knowledge is now walking the streets again. And no. I’m not in a gang, unless you concider veterans as former gang bangers.

        • I’m not involved in drugs, nor have I ever been a gang member. Nevertheless, I awoke one night to find an intruder in my bedroom. I’m convinced that I’m alive and in good health because I had a gun at my bedside. Am I the rare event, the “black swan?” Maybe so, but if it happened to me it could happen to anyone. Don’t assume that you’re not at risk. By the way, I now have a burglar alarm. I don’t intend to be surprised again.

        • “The truth is, and I heard it from you guys when it suits your argument, that most gun violence is gang and drug related.”

          This is true. Your point?

          “Even some of the dreaded home invasions you guys keep preparing for are really drug and gang related.”

          This is true. Your point?

          “So unless you’re into that shit, your chances of needing the guns are minimal.”

          This is not true. This is ignorant turning a blind eye. Or do I need to cite the thousands of store owners who were NOT into drugs and gangs who are no longer with us?

          “So much so that the chances of misuse far outweigh the chances of your one day saving the day with your gun.”

          What misuses? What misuses outweigh what?

        • Buuurr, Do you own a store in a bad neighborhood? Would you? If that’s your deal then you probably need to have a gun there. But your thousands of dead store owners needs to be divided into the total number of store owners in order to get the percentage. It’s small. And if you move your business into a good area, the chances go down even more.

          The same works for where you live and how you secure your home.

          Did you really not know what I meant by “misuse.” I meant any and every thing that could possible go wrong. Accident, negligence, suicide, murder, allowing it to be too easily stolen, all that and more is what I’m saying is misuse and my idea is one of those things is more likely to happen than your one day being the hero with the gun. That’s the lose-lose.

        • I used to believe the whole “buy into a good neighborhood and nothing bad can ever happen to you” argument also. You can hear a pin drop here after dark, and we’ve not had a crime committed here (even vandalism) in years. Then my neighbor started living with a violent drunk guy that beat her nearly to death, and I started having to worry about my wife. The guy is still around, and so is my shotgun. Unfortunately, we can choose our homes and our neighborhoods, but we can’t control the choices of who those around us who bring threats into what we believe to be idyllic surroundings. Buy a gun, learn to be safe with it, and hope it remains a hobby only.

  7. Robert, I was out running errands today, when my shirt caught on something, and the person I was out shopping with said (rather loudly for my comfort level) “OH! YOU HAVE A GUN!” Sheesh…

    Fortunately, my local big-box Men’s Mall has no signs posted, prohibiting me from carrying. Interestingly, in Texas, property owners CAN post a sign that prohibits legal concealed carry. (Property rights trump just about everything in the Lone Star State.)

    As far as Toys R Us goes, my thinking would be to go in unarmed and ask to see the manager, after check-out. I’d point out the receipt in hand, and tell him “I understand you have a new policy prohibiting the legal carry of a concealed handgun with the proper permit. This is the last time you will see me or my family in your store until that policy changes. I choose to take my business elsewhere, because I do not wish to put my family at risk in a ‘target-rich environment,’ where the only guy with a gun will be the bad guy who chooses to ignore your sign.” And then I’d walk away and not come back. I hear Walmart has a very nice toy department.

    • But the signs in Texas have legal requirements to abide by, or else they are not binding. Toys R Us signs do not meet that criteria, it must say “In pursuant to law 30.06 …..

  8. Robert, this is why I love being free to vote with my wallet. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, the “no guns” sign simply means “no business” from me. There are plenty of places I shop which either welcome folks like us or don’t have a problem running business under the same laws as apply on the street, just a few feet from the front door.

    And… your (spelled y-o-u-r) paranoia is just fine. I often think think about situational awareness being the first tool in my kit… followed by my exit plan (the goal is to resolve Condition Red, not get into a fight) and THEN the tools to respond with force, God forbid it get that bad and I’m forced to fight. I hate fighting, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t know a few things about protecting myself. Odds are the vast, overwhelming, super-majority of us will never “clear leather” in public, and that’s perfectly alright with me.

    Maybe the new approach shouldn’t be to register law-abiding citizens but create a registry of violent criminals and publish it everywhere. I’m really not comfortable knowing I might be walking into the same Wal-Mart as a convicted felon. Better yet, why don’t we put little stickers up on the door that simply says “no crime?” [/sarcasm]

  9. Could you look any more grim than you do in the picture? Sheesh. If I didn’t know you, I’d swear that you were one of the bad guys.

    • If I had to shepherd an eight year old through Toys R Us, I’d be looking pretty grim too!

  10. If you’re carrying in public, and you can’t take your gun into a store, then go to another store, or shop online. If you leave your gun in the car it can be stolen, and then you’ve armed a criminal.

    • Vigilantis, I concur. In the rare case where I must leave my firearm in my car, I perform a simple task that renders the firearm inaccessible to unauthorized users.

      I go somewhere else.

  11. Wasn’t there a woman in a few years ago in a Luby’s resturaunt, in Texas, who didn’t take her pistol in while she ate with her parents to be in compliance? She watched helplessly as a whack job executed them along with a bunch of other sheeple. I’d rather be in trouble for stopping the bad guy, and be on EVERY news channel with public support behind me, or not shop there. The leave it in the car option, isn’t. Do you ever plan on where your car should break down? Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it…

  12. Robert,

    Please check into this: In 2004, Ohio finally passed Concealed Carry (although a VERY bad set of laws that are slowly being corrected). Immediately thereafter, several cities, towns, and villages (Toledo, Clyde, and Arcanum, to list but a few) passed local ordinances prohibiting firearms carry in areas allowed under General Laws of the state, thus being unconstitutional. (Ohio is both a concealed and open carry state; you do not need a license to carry openly.)

    I challenged Toledo, Clyde, and Arcanum, and was snubbed, ignored, insulted, and threatened with arrest. I tried to talk to these idiots for almost a year, and finally held a “Pistol Packin’ Picnic” in Ottawa Park in Toledo on April 9, 2005. At this picnic, I was cited for violating an obscure park rule put in place by an unelected bureaucrat. I was convicted in Toledo municipal court, which was upheld on appeal, in a VERY convoluted split decision.

    The case went to the Ohio Supreme Court, which refused to hear my appeal of the conviction (very minor misdemeanor = parking ticket.) To date, I refuse to pay the fine, and beg for a contempt citation. I’d love to have a judge explain to me how I can be in contempt based upon a law that was not valid on its’ face.

    The state legislature, not taking kindly to municipalities telling it to pound sand and ignoring the will of the People, changed the law(s), and passed state-wide preemption, prohibiting local legislative bodies from passing or enforcing firearms laws more strict that state law. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this statute. This led to the invalidation of “gun control” laws, such as “assault weapon” bans, “Saturday Night Special” bans, licensing schemes, registration, handgun owner I. D.s, “one gun a month” and other laws statewide. I consider this a victory, without doubt.

    However, TARTA (the Toledo Area Regional Transportation Authority) has to this day refused to remove the “no guns” signage from their busses. This is in direct violation of state law, and also violates several criminal statutes in Ohio Revised Code.

    I have relocated to Texas, having left my birth state of Ohio, where I was a 52 year resident, for this and other reasons. However, I return to Ohio on occassion to visit children, grandchildren, family and friends. I hold a valid license to carry concealed from Texas and Utah (Ohio has reciprocity with Utah). Upon my next visit to Toledo, Ohio, I fully intend to take a bus ride, and I will be armed.

    If you wish to see more of my battle in Ohio, please do a “Google” search on “Bruce Beatty Concealed Carry Ohio”. I have several attorney friends and others currently preparing to challenge TARTA’s illegal ban. I will keep you posted.

    Bruce A. Beatty
    Technical Sergeant, USAF (Retired)

  13. A truist would say that standing up for our God-given, Constitutionally-protected right to life, and the ability to defend that life by whatever tools are available, means being armed, concealed or otherwise, without any state-issued license in the first place. Also, property rights begin with the individual. Your God-given, Constitutionally-protected right to property is not subject to the whims of other individuals, to include their businesses. I apologize if I come off as antagonistic, and there could perhaps be serious consequences for freely exercising your God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights in this manner, but I think it is high time we wake up to the reality of so many Second-Amendment “sucesses”. If permission must be asked, then we acknowledge that permission can be denied.

  14. And, for the record, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this series. It is interesting and thought-provoking. We’re all in this together. I’m just trying to invoke some alternative thoughts to the continued submission to state dictates.

  15. When the Texas Legislature wrote/passed the CHL laws, they encluded the exact size and wording of a sign prohibiting concealed carry in a business in Section 30 paragraph 06, hence the “30.06 sign”. Any other sign can be ignored as far as legal right to carry and only indicates preference of the owner. Of the non-30.06 signs I’ve seen, my favorite says “Carry of unregistered handguns prohibited”, which is fine with me. I walk right past it. I’ve only seen one 30.06 sign. Unfortunately, it’s on the door to my bank, so I do my banking at the drive-in window. As far as the “paranoia” is concerned, my CHL instructor called it “situational awareness” and pushed it hard, as the one best way to avoid the need to draw and fire.

  16. Robert,
    I don’t understand the dilemma, the sign was posted out front, you said so yourself,
    It said something to the effect of : Do not bring your guns in here, it is not allowed!
    In my eyes, that would be the safest place ever, no one would come in that store with a gun because you know everybody abides by the rules just like you did, Right?
    /the above statement is dripping with sarcasm, in case you didn’t notice.

  17. The government posted a “No Handguns” sign on the UK back in 1997 & look where that got us: Rising crime involving firearms, violent crime rates near double those in the US & home invasions where the occupier is present running at 53% against 13% in the US.
    It did nothing to stop Derrick Bird (someone I knew well) from killing a dozen people round here last June either – rather the opposite if anything, as an armed citizen might well have been in the right place to stop his rampage.
    Instead it took 40 minutes for armed Police to arrive……..

  18. Thanks for the support, gentlemen.

    Henry Bowman: I agree 100%, and what you state IS the goal. However, being pragmatic, THE MAN (or WOMAN) will use any excuse to bar any Freedom-minded American the RIGHT to Keep and Bear under the Color of Law (usually dark brown, and very smelly).

    We have lost our Rights incrementally, and that is, for the most part, how we must take them back. The “government”, aided and abetted by the likes of the Brady Bunch, George Soros, etc., has, for decades, controlled the conversation. Look at the “bait & switch” propoganda during the reign of William B. J. the Terrible, where the visual was some aphla-labeled thug shooting full auto weapons, and the narrative was about “semi-auto assault weapons”.

    It took years to fool the American People. It will take a while to educate them of the Truth. Fortunately, we have made great progress, and, in my case, using their rules against them. As I stated, I was convicted FOR OBEYING THE LAW. I wear that as a Badge of Honor, because by doing so, I was able to demonstrate to the People how insidious our “government” has become over the years. Small moves, my friends. Small moves.

    TSGt B


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