I do not advocate any illegal activity, but I also firmly believe that all human beings have a fundamental right to self-defense. Unfortunately, there are those who disagree, and place signs indicating so. No Weapons Allowed signs on a school or public building should be trusted to keep you safe as much as a stop sign at an intersection. The signs are only for those who obey the law. The people who put these up have the best of intentions: to keep the people who enter their places safe from violence. Maybe they envision a school, office, or factory where most people are carrying guns, and some minor disagreement will lead to an armed confrontation, or their will be accidental discharges from those who are careless or distracted. I doubt that would be the case. I have found armed people are the most polite, respectful and careful, when they know others are armed (Porter, 2014). Regarding risks in the workplace, many factories are already high-risk places- workers are trusted to operate dangerous machinery, but not to carry. Moreover, I have a question for the people who put these impotent signs up in gang infested, inner- city schools: How many of the students are armed? Are the Drug Free Zone signs obeyed? Maybe to carry in a workplace or school, a reasonable option would be to ascertain that people who choose to be armed are vetted for responsibility, stability, and well acquainted with practice and rules of gun safety. There is precedent for this in about 40 Ohio school districts, where teachers can concealed carry and get training in combat shooting and emergency medical care (Newsmax, 2016)
Many argue that Gun Free Zones are actually Sitting Duck Zones. They provide assurances to an armed violent criminal that there will not be anyone on the premises to challenge them if they carry out violence. The definition of law abiding is that people will not bring their firearms into one of these buildings or schools with the signs placed. However criminals do not obey the law. Will signs act as a deterrent to someone who is intent on bringing a gun into a public place, such as a movie theatre, for the purpose of creating mayhem and killing innocent people? Of course not; that is absurd.
There is a question for a law-abiding citizen who has the right to defend themselves, their family, and innocent bystanders. Which is the greater moral value: to obey a misplaced sign put out by misguided people, or to disobey and have the means to defend yourself and others. Lawrence Kohlberg was a psychologist who examined morality. He said that people would go through three stages of moral development as they age: The pre-Conventional, Conventional, and post-Conventional stages. In the pre- Conventional stage of moral development, children will obey rules because they are told to and because they are fearful of the consequences. People in the Conventional stage of morality obey the rules and law because it is recognized as for the benefit of society. However, there are those is the post- Conventional stage of morality ascribe to higher moral principles (McLeod, 2013). When there is a conflict between a law and their conscience, these people follow their conscience. This is related to the concept of civil disobedience, which was discussed by Henry David Thoreau, (The Walden Woods Project, n.a.), and put into action by Martin Luther king Jr. (The King Center, 2014) and many others. The question is should you obey a non-just law? Another consideration is that in some jurisdictions, and areas within a jurisdiction, the No Guns Allowed signs are not a law enforceable by the state, but a preference of the business owner, the legal enforceability of which is questionable. Some restaurant chains have forbidden guns on their premises (Lord, 2015). It is up to you to know the law, to both assert your rights, and not commit a serious offense. Of course, gun owners can also boycott these establishments.
Sanity & reason:
Corrections officers do not have firearms within the perimeter of a facility for a good reason: they are typically outnumbered by inmates at a 50 to one or 100 to one ration, and could be overpowered and their weapon used against staff or other inmates. I have been in locked down psychiatric facilities (as a visitor on business I want to emphasize, not a guest) and there are prominent Check your Weapon signs at the reception desk, where police officers or others who are armed, are expected to give their weapon to staff for placement in a lock box, and retrieve it on the way out. As I write this, I am wondering if this would be a saner alternative, at least in some locations- rather than no weapons allowed, what about checking your weapon at certain locations? I don’t know; I am speculating.
Keep perspective. There are some places where the most ardent second amendment advocate should not be armed. Correctional facilities, psychiatric hospitals, police stations, courthouses, airports, and Federal buildings are places to obey the rules, for the safety of all, and due to substantial legal penalties (McCoy, 2015). In these places the levels of security will be ratcheted up compared to a chain restaurant. There will be armed law enforcement or other public safety personnel, as well as controlled access, cameras, and metal detectors. Sometimes control has to be relinquished, and a degree of trust that others will do their job and keep everyone safe has to be accepted. Alternatively, choose to stay out of these places.
Recognize there may be consequences in the form of substantial legal sanctions if you are in a school or office building in which you have chosen to disobey this law, and bring your firearm into the building. If it is your workplace, you may also be terminated from your place of employment. Criminals will not obey. The question is should law-abiding citizens strive to higher moral principles? Our conscience is our ingrained sense of right and wrong. People who are predominantly law-abiding, and are the proverbial tax paying, upstanding members of their communities tend to listen to their conscience more often than not. What does yours tell you in this situation? This is a personal decision which every individual has to make, who chooses to carry.
Lord, A. (2015). 7 Companies That Don’t Want Guns In Their Stores. Huffington Post. Retrieved March 14, 2016 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/16/open-carry-guns-restaurants-companies_n_7802468.html
McCoy, L. (2015). What’s The Big Deal About “Gun Free Zones”? USA Carry. Retrieved March 3, 2016 from http://www.usacarry.com/big-deal-about-gun-free-zones/
McLeod, S. A. (2013). Kohlberg. simplypsychology Retrieved March 3, 2016 rom http://www.simplypsychology.org/kohlberg.html
Newsmax. (2016) Armed Ohio Teachers Trained to Cut ‘Active Shooter’ Killing Time Newsmax. Retrieved March 12, 2016 http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/armed-ohio-teachers-active/2015/11/17/id/702438/
Porter, D.A. (2014). Gun Owner’s and Gun violence. Home Defense gun. Retrieved March 12, 2016 from http://www.homedefensegun.net/gun-owners-and-gun-violence/
The King Center. (2014). Civil Disobedience. The King Center. Retrieved March 3, 2016 from http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/theme/4733
The Walden Woods Project. (n.a.). About Thoreau: Civil Disobedience. Retrieved March 3, 2016 from https://www.walden.org/Library/About_Thoreau’s_Life_and_Writings:_The_Research_Collections/Civil_Disobedience