Mohandas Gandhi supposedly said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.” If we want to make the world a better place for the natural human right of self defense, we have to start with ourselves and our own choices, often with the dollars we spend.
Right now, the fight against anti-gun policies in government is going pretty well, especially in he wake of NYSRPA v Bruen. The fight clearly isn’t over — it never will be — but we could be at the beginning of a golden age of gun rights and rollbacks of limits during which law after law falls in the courts. We definitely need to keep supporting our favorite gun rights organizations to keep that fight going.
But, there’s an entirely different, nasty side of gun control that can’t be fought in the courts and shouldn’t be fought in the legislatures: the way corporate America punishes those who exercise their gun rights.
To be perfectly clear, private property owners have the right to set rules for their properties within certain limits (racial discrimination and businesses inaccessible to the disabled are outlawed). The only way to legally change that would be to pass more laws, going beyond the “parking lot” laws some states have. But that strategy erodes private property rights, and that could backfire spectacularly on gun rights supporters.
The Information Problem
The best way to address corporate discrimination against guns and those who own them is to vote with our dollars. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. The biggest problem is information, or knowing what businesses are anti-gun and which are not, and perhaps more importantly, knowing what the pro-gun alternatives to these businesses are.
The most obvious anti-gun businesses are those that have signs prohibiting the carry of guns, right there on their doors. That makes it pretty easy to decide to shop somewhere else. But, if you’ve already taken your family out and you’re walking up, there’s a lot of pressure (probably from the wife in many cases) to go in anyway. So, it’s nice to know before you go whether or not guns are prohibited.
Banning concealed carry, however, is only part of a bigger picture. A business might not have signs prohibiting concealed carry, but they could be giving big bucks to anti-gun organizations behind your back, donating to the campaigns of anti-gun politicians or not respecting their employees’ right to self defense.
Worst of all, you’re paying for them to do this when you give them your business. You’re voting for this with your dollars and may not even know it.
Conversely, not all “gun-free” zone signs are equal. In some cases, the establishment has no choice but to post one due to state law (usually because the business is a prohibited or “sensitive location” under state or local law), or have otherwise been forced to post. In that case, it makes less sense to punish that business over something they have no control over.
There’s no way anyone can know all of that, but it’s information we need to make informed decisions.
Technology Can Solve This Problem, But So Far It Hasn’t
Information problems like this are fairly easy to solve with technology. Computers can remember all of this information, and make it readily available on a list or a map for people to view when they’re looking for a place to spend money. For fuel prices, we have GasBuddy (or, Plugshare if you drive an electric car). For simply finding a business and knowing its hours, we have things like Google Maps. There are apps for almost anything.
But when it comes to helping us spend our hard-earned dollars at businesses that aren’t actively working to erode our human rights, it’s tough to find good information.
Over the years, a number of app developers have tried, and usually failed. I can’t name all of the apps that have come and gone over the last decade or so, but I know of at least five that either died or never really got off the ground. The apps were ready, but the firearms community just never really put much information into them.
The CCRKBA maintains a list, but it’s not an app, mostly includes larger companies and doesn’t even try to include local businesses in your area.
There’s one exception I could find that has part of what we need in most towns. The “Posted!” app on both Android and Apple app stores (cost: $1) tells you where most of the “no guns” signs are. There’s also provision to call a business “Anti-Gun Lite” when they’ve taken action against gun rights (political contributions, etc.), but don’t necessarily ban guns on their premises.
But it’s a very big job to keep it current and the information is far from complete. I don’t see places that I know are posted and I see erroneous information for several locations (usually a notice that only licensed people can carry due to state law). After looking at several cities, I only saw two “Anti-Gun Lite” businesses posted (and in this case, they ban open carry but not concealed carry).
We Can Do Better
The clear problem is that those of us in the gun rights community just aren’t supporting these projects as we should. If we all pitched in a little and sent information in to apps like “Posted!” we’d all have a much easier time knowing how to spend our dollars wisely.
If we want useful tools like this, it’s up to us to support them.