The Hill is claiming that state law should protect the rights of homeowners by having ‘no carry’ gun defaults on private property. AWA over at GunFreeZone agrees. Here is one of the few times that I disagree with the lads over at GunFreeZone. In the interest of full disclosure, this is what he said:
I believe in both our right to self defense and our property rights. I personally have a rule that on our property if we are having a gathering of people that are not all gun people that concealed carry is allowed but open is not. We have some friends that are to scared of firearms to even look at them in person. That’s fine.
If a business wants to limit firearm possession in their place of business to criminals only, that is their choice.
Let me explain why I disagree.
When I was in high school (many, many years ago) my football coach used to explain to us the difference between involvement and commitment:
When you eat breakfast, the chicken that provided the eggs is involved, but the pig that provided the bacon is committed.
Coaches, especially in the south, have a way with words. Although it is a bit outlandish, my coach’s words reveal an important truth: it is easy to be involved with something, but it takes a lot more to be committed to it. So it is with liberty and rights.
When a company opens a location, the owners of that company risk very little. They have only risked a relatively small amount of money in the endeavor, and are insulated from any personal risk by the very nature of corporate law. If anything should go horribly wrong, the only thing that the nominal owner stands to lose is his investment cash. In other words, stockholders are chickens that are only involved with the business.
It is for that reason that companies make decisions that affect only the bottom line. After all, they are there to protect the owners’ interests, and the only interest the owner has is to get his investment money back with a little extra for his risk. It is this truth which allows government to use the law of unintended consequences to control a business without seeming to.
Let’s apply this to gun laws: As a government entity, I pass a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons, but I place a clause in the law allowing a business owner to opt out of the law. Many property rights people will applaud this law, and think that property rights are protected.
The problem is in the law of unintended consequences. Other laws hold a property owner liable for any act that they allow to take place on their property, but hold them harmless from those acts as long as the property owner has taken reasonable steps to prevent that act. You see the position that you have just placed a corporation in, don’t you? The business is now liable for the actions of any concealed carrier that they allow onto their property, and held harmless for the actions of armed killers, as long as they post a sign that says “no guns.”
The right of property owners has already been shredded. No property owner who wants to avoid a potential multi million dollar lawsuit would allow concealed carry.
Decision making process:
Will I be held liable if CCW shoots someone? Yes
If I prohibit carry, will I be held liable if a criminal kills my customers?
Post signs prohibiting carry
Back to our breakfast analogy: The corporate business owners, wanting to protect the only skin they have in the game are our chickens. The business posts the signs banning CCW. The public who frequents that business is now at the mercy of the armed criminals who know that they are now safe to practice their trade, and the business is safely insulated from all liability when it happens.
Congratulations, guns are now banned in public, and you have just cheered them on as they used your rights to make bacon.
I have been making that case for over a decade. That is why I have ignored these signs.
There are those who say that the person could always choose to shop elsewhere, but since the law is the law everywhere, there is no real choice. Very, very few business owners will choose to take the chance of facing a multimillion dollar award.