I have provided my opinion on the emotional drivel of ‘Gun Free Zones’ – they are as effective as Drug Free Zones. Both serve only to add a criminal charge and sentence enhancer to convictions – the latter is a criminal activity, the former makes law abiding citizens criminals. Why is this tolerated? What are your options? For my view on ridding us of ‘Gun Free Zones’ please visit www.DeanBeersNRA.com/2nd-amendment-blog/rights-vs-privileges-licensing-or-not. I have also addressed this, to some degree, in my book at www.BeersWithOurFoundingFathers.com – and will be adapting this commentary to my upcoming 2nd Amendment book.
I am not a lawyer – I have been a legal investigator for 30 years and have researched our Constitution and 2nd Amendment extensively. I have also applied simple commonsense and logic. I had considered this topic several weeks ago, and while at an investigative conference in Texas, had some discussion with good friends – who are also colleagues and supporters of my NRA Board nomination efforts. Earlier his week, one sent this opinion piece to me - "Good read on what we discussed with signs at public businesses and gay customers."
I agree with the premise of this article - but I disagree with how the author gets to our mutual agreement. I have a different view on why he is right – but it’s important to understand why I feel his basis is incorrect; and he would lose if this were civil litigation. Please read the other thoughtful piece, then return to this one – I think it will all make sense - http://wizbangblog.com/2014/05/23/why-cc-holders-should-ignore-anti-gun-signs-posted-in-stores. In fact, if approached correctly, I think litigation against the federal government, and a private business, could be a victory for our 2nd Amendment rights.
What is my view on Gun Free Zones?
My views are pretty simple – they are emotional and make anti-gunners feel better; they serve no purpose and have not quantifiable results. They are as worthless as the signs printed on. I also don’t see them going away soon – but need to; they endanger and criminal law abiding citizens. Gun control is the safest place for your firearm – under your control. Finally, ‘Gun Free Zones’ blatantly violate our 2nd Amendment rights. I’ll describe how shortly.
What are your 2nd Amendment rights on private property?
What if a business has a sign prohibiting firearms on their premises? Without getting into various local laws, regulations and ordinances – are you safer, and is your firearm more secure, on your person or in your vehicle? You decide. What are your rights and what are the rights of the business?
This is fairly simple, if you eliminate emotion and deal with logic, commonsense and our 2nd Amendment. First, only the government or an agent of the government can violate your Constitutional (therefore 2nd Amendment) rights – our Bill of Rights protects us from government, not other persons; a private business cannot (FYI – this is where I disagree with the opinion piece above). Second, it is a private business – just like your personal property, from your vehicle to your house, are your personal property and for you to decide what does and does not take place on your property. You have an absolute right to set the rules on your personal private property, which cannot be infringed. Remember, our rights are absolute – until the exercise thereof violates another person’s; however, this is only while in the public domain. I cannot come to your house and violate your rights, to exercise my own. Generally, how a person feels about something – their emotions – cannot trump the rights of another.
The short answer – your rights in the public domain end when you enter the private property of another, including a private business. I understand there will be disagreement – and I struggle with my own reasoning; however, it is (almost) sound – you cannot force someone to be armed, and a guest cannot force you to be disarmed, on your property. As I mentioned, specific to any government property – or any property regulated by the government – by an act of government against free persons, ‘Gun Free Zones’ violate our 2nd Amendment rights. This is fully inclusive and unequivocal. Except – your rights may be suspended for public safety; it happens with our freedom of speech and assembly. I do have a solution to this, and it’s simple.
“Any sworn or retired law enforcement officer, as well as any individual issued a training and quarterly qualifications based concealed weapons carry permit from the state in which they reside, is exempt from any local or federal law, regulation or ordinance restricting or prohibiting the lawful right to keep and bear arms.”
This solves a few problems – especially if applied to national reciprocity; it requires more than the Constitutional right to carry. It does not solve the problem of a private business prohibiting possession of weapons; our 2nd Amendment is not limited to firearms.
Isn’t it discrimination and a violation of personal rights?
I did say a private business has an absolute right; however, like all ‘absolutes’ – it’s not. For example, a private business cannot discriminate based on age, gender, sex, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation – age, gender, sex, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation – of which none are identified in our Constitution. So, how is it a person or private business can violate the rights of an individual that are not identified in our Constitution? Simple, these are civil rights – rights defined by government; not the unalienable natural rights protecting us from government. Stay with me on this, it’s important – and is also where I disagree, but do agree – with the opinion piece above (if you have reached this point, and have not yet stopped to read the piece, please do so now and then return to this commentary). Any person, entity or government agency or agent can violate your civil rights – but only a government agency or agent can violate your Constitutional rights. Aspects of free speech are protected civil rights – until you slander or libel another. Our strongly feel our 2nd Amendment should be a protected civil right – it is the only recourse against non-criminal violations of our rights. Any ignorant bigot can keep any person off their personal private property for any reason – including simply because of their age, gender, sex, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation; however, a private business cannot – except your Constitutional rights can be violated and are not protected. A private business cannot deny service based on these criteria – you cannot hold demonstrations and protests (free speech) on private property; but you can be prohibited from exercising your 2nd Amendment.
The reason a privately owned bakery cannot refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple is simple – the business serves the public, and by doing so agrees to serve all the public without discrimination. But, again, said business can discriminate against any person exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. Should a business be allowed to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, on any grounds? No. I agree, they are in business to serve the public, that was their choice – and in doing so, they forfeited some their own personal rights. Me and my Wife have a legal investigations business – and we can accept and decline cases, so long doing so does not violate any laws or our professional ethics. Our professional ethics state we cannot discriminate or act in any manner which would otherwise violate a person’s Constitutional rights. Frankly, we don’t care who our clients are – and we’ve had a variety. We do care about their Constitutional rights – and defend them in criminal defense cases, and protect them in civil litigation cases. We have worked with clients accused of the worst of crimes, and those victimized by the worst of crimes.
Yes, our 2nd Amendment rights are unequivocal
This brings us to the mutual agreement I have with the above opinion piece – a business which prohibits exercising your 2nd Amendment rights on their property does violate your rights – your civil rights, not your 2nd Amendment rights. Simply because they are not a government agency or agent and are a private entity in business to serve the public. The public has an absolute right to responsibly and safely exercise – or not – their 2nd Amendment, so long as doing so does not infringe on the rights of others. The lawful carrying of a firearm does not, other than emotionally, violate any other person’s rights. Emotions are not a right, so ‘feeling’ violated is not a legitimate path to creating a new right, or infringing on another’s rights.