Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, CVS, Walgreens, and many other chain stores issued public statements asking customers to respect their wishes not to open carry guns in their stores. These retail giants have come to realize that their customers shouldn’t have to worry about whether the man who just walked in with a high-caliber weapon of war slung around his chest is merely making a political statement or they are about to become one of the latest mass shooting victims featured on national news.
In a move everyone should’ve seen coming, open carry activists are pushing back. According to The New York Times, they’ve continued their activities unabated at major retailers, proving just how toothless these retails requests really are and why this should be a clear cut policy: no guns permitted.
David Amad, a gun rights activist and the vice president of Open Carry Texas, is not especially bothered by Walmart’s recent announcement that it is “respectfully requesting” that customers not openly carry guns into its stores.
Mr. Amad said many of his group’s 38,000 members had carried their guns openly into Walmart stores since the retailer made the policy public last Tuesday. None have been asked to leave.
“They are ducking the issue,” Mr. Amad said of Walmart. “They are trying to get the gun haters to leave them alone, while at the same time leave us alone when we carry in their stores.”
Finally, common ground between gun zealots and the rest of us. These requests are completely toothless. Major retailers got all the great press without actually doing anything to make their customers more secure.
If Bob needs to compensate for his shortcomings by carrying his his AR-15 into Walmart, nobody is going to stop him. Terrified parents and their children who stopped in for a gallon of milk and paper towels just need to deal with it because Bob’s going through some shit and needs to express himself with a high-caliber weapon to feel good about himself. The naked fear and apprehension in their eyes make Bob feel powerful. And he isn’t about to give that up because Walmart politely asked him not to carry his gun around.
Sure, Bob claims he feels safer. But guns don’t make fellow shoppers feel safer—and for good reason. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, there is evidence that open carry can actually increase the likelihood of conflict and endanger public safety.
- Researchers have suggested that the presence of visible firearms may alter behavior and increase aggressive and violent behaviors.1
- Multiple studies show that restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons can increase public safety. For example, recent analyses have shown that states with weak standards for concealed carry have higher rates of violent crime2 and gun homicides3 than would be expected if the states had stricter standards for public carry.
They also note white supremacists and other extremists have used open carry as a means to “intimidate and threaten others.”
Concealed guns are no safer. In fact, an analysis in Texas found concealed carry gun owners were arrested for weapons-related crimes at an 81% higher rate than the state’s general population. Loose gun laws means an increase in gun violence, and they do nothing to reduce crime.
In an analysis of states with right-to-carry laws, Stanford researcher John Donohue and colleagues found that states that passed right-to-carry laws experienced 13 to 15 percent higher aggregate violent crime rates, over a period of 10 years, than comparable states.
In the end, Walmart and others do not deserve high praise for asking customers not to carry their guns into stores. For the safety and well-being of the vast majority of their customers, big retail chains must go further and make the policy crystal clear: NO GUNS PERMITTED. PERIOD.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.