Do a lot of gun owners act this way?

A recent co-worker posted a link to this article on one gun-owner’s experience at CostCo when he carried his gun into the store and wore it openly. When he was leaving, a member of the store staff saw the gun and told him that store policy was that members had to leave firearms outside the store. Rather than agreeing to follow the company and store rules which he agreed to when he joined as a member, it sounds to me like he was rude and acted rather childishly. I’ve known a lot of gun owners/permit holders/gun carriers. None of the ones I’ve known seem to me likely to act this way, but maybe I’m mispercieving them.

This is a longer article than I typically post. Before you assume I’m trying to call for gun-control, I’m not. I already believe gun control doesn’t work. So we’ll go over the story and my reaction as I read it. Since I think some gun-rights folks will want to respond, please understand that I think you need to see how I read this story and why I disapprove of the author’s actions and behaviors before telling me what is wrong with me. You are free to disagree with me, and I expect some people will. But please keep responses civil.

After shopping and paying at the register, the author was informed as he was leaving that he needed to leave his gun outside when shopping at CostCo.

We arrived at the registers, and got rung out. I paid, and as we are getting ready to head out, Brian came up and said that “for the comfort and safety” of their employees and guests, he asked that I leave my gun outside.

First, his response:

I said “No problem, sorry if I caused any fuss.” I then asked if this was the policy of the Eden Prairie store, or a company-wide policy. He said it was company policy.

And that seems like a good start. But then, he immediately turns to a threat.

I asked if I could get some sort of written statement or copy of the policy, because there were 35,000 permit holders in the state of Minnesota alone who were going to want to know about it.

Because nothing says “I’m trying to understand the rules so I can follow them or seek changes to them” like implying 35,000 people will stop shopping at a store. I’m sure someone will want to tell me that this statement doesn’t imply that, but I see absolutely no reason to make the statement unless trying to imply a threat of lost customers/members.

Oh, and since they didn’t want me in their store could they please return my groceries. Brian said “Oh, no, your perfectly welcome to shop here, we just” at which point I cut him off saying “You just asked me to leave, so obviously I am *not* welcome here, and neither is my money.” (I have played out scenarios like this in my mind for several years, it was gratifying that he kept giving me all the right straight lines).

See, now he just turns rude and takes pleasure in it. This person has a responsibility to inform members of and enforce certain rules within the store. The author is welcome to shop there, although he certainly can choose not to because of the gun ban. The author interrupts the store representative, and says he was asked to leave, so he is obviously not welcome there. But he wasn’t asked to leave according to the story he has shared so far. He was asked to follow membership rules which require leaving the gun outside the store – note earlier where he said that he was asked to leave his gun outside the store – he even apologizes for any potential fuss caused by his carrying. But the author also makes it clear he was happy to have this chance to be rude, as he’d practiced this scenario in his head for years. Congratulations for not understanding the store representative is not the enemy – he is a store employee with a company which the author chose to join apparently without learning the requirements of his membership. And this employee has a responsibility to ask certain things of members sometimes, no matter his own feelings on the rules. We don’t have any idea what the employee thinks of this rule, only that he has an obligation to inform others of it and see that it is followed.

I’m sure someone might say “But he didn’t know the rules required he leave his gun outside.” And I have to ask why that is the store’s fault that this person did not take time to learn the rules and regulations? He appears to be like some (very few) gun-rights advocates I’ve known in the past who will proclaim that they have a permit, so they can carry their gun wherever they damn well please. I’m not saying all gun owners are like this – most that I’ve known are not – but this particular person comes across in his story as one of those people. The people I’ve known who are like that have carried their guns into places which can legally prohibit guns and chosen to do so, even when they know the site prohibits guns. Rather than seeking to change the rules, these people ignore them, which is one of the things that makes non-gun owners want stronger gun control laws. Disagreeing with a legal prohibition of a weapon does not give one the right to ignore the prohibition – if you don’t like legal controls, work to change the laws instead of just ignoring them.

Someone might point out that he had a visible firearm the entire time he was in the store. It is possible, though some people might like to pretend it isn’t, that no store representative saw his firearm until he was leaving. It is also possible (in fact, probably more likely I would guess) that no store representative that saw him before he went through check-out felt comfortable informing him of the rule. It may not be logical for someone to be uncomfortable around this person (and we’ll get to that behavior in a bit), but some people are just that afraid of guns and gun owners. Also, some people may have no qualms about being around a person who is legally carrying, but they might have decided they aren’t sure if this particular person is legally carrying of not.

So he took my receipt and said he would return the groceries. This was made a little more difficult because I paid with an ATM card, so they couldn’t just refund it the way you do a credit card, he had to pull cash out of the safe (but more about that later).

The store representative may not have liked this. He may have wanted to not do it, but there is no mention of complaint from the employee, nor difficulty after the author’s rudeness in getting his purchases returned. There is some issue of the difficulty of processing this, but it appears the store representative tried to take care of things here. In other words, going solely on the story from the author’s viewpoint as told by the author, this person is still trying to handle this properly, even after the author was rude, interrupting the store representative and enjoying the confrontation over carrying a firearm.

The other guy I talked to, whose name I never caught came out with a copy of the policy, except it looked like it was the body of an e-mail that had been sent out to someone. I had a line at the top saying PRINT ON LETTERHEAD and no name or signature at the bottom.

I asked if I could get something on letterhead, or at least with a real live person’s signature on it, so they disappeared into the back office again.

Here again, the employees are trying to get the author the information he has requested. It’s perfectly understandable that he wants it on letterhead and with a signature, and it looks like they are trying to do this. He also seems perfectly reasonable in requesting more formal documentation. This snippet looks like everyone is trying to make this clear, and now all seems fine.

Brian returned with my money, but apparently was frightened of me, because he gave the cash to Dianne (my fiancee). She noticed this, and said she could barely keep from laughing, because he wouldn’t even look at me (even though I was standing about 6 inches from her) and his hand was shaking as he counted the money back. For those of you who don’t know me, I am 6’4″, 340 pounds with a shaved head and about 4 inches of beard. And my surgeon said I had the biggest chest cavity she had ever worked in. So I guess even without a .45 in my armpit I am a little intimidating.

Now I don’t even know what to make of this. I guess the author is incapable of seeing that sometimes one person might just be uncomfortable around other people, be it due to their size, their carrying a firearm, their appearance, or maybe something else. None of those may be good reasons to change behavior or to fear someone, but we all do illogical or irrational things at times. Instead, it looks like the author is glad to be cowing this employee. Which doesn’t help gun-rights folks in any way. How exactly, will gun-rights be improved if the people who aren’t gun owners and are unaware of the training and legal requirements ever become more open to lessening gun-controls if they are scared of the folks with guns? I just don’t see how enjoying someone’s discomfort is going to help gun-rights folks get less gun-control laws.

At this point Other Guy showed up again, and I asked him why there was any sort of “safety” issue with my carrying in the store. He replied that they didn’t know anything about me, except that I had a gun. Oh, bless him, another perfect straight line.

Like it or not, this is a reasonable answer to someone who doesn’t know much about gun requirements – the person speaking indeed does not know anything about the gun carrier. And I’ll just throw out that this could even be an off-the-cuff answer by the employee not at all related to the company’s actual reasoning behind the policy. Clearly, the author doesn’t like this person being uninformed. What to do, but be confrontational:

“But you do know things about me. By virtue of my having a permit to carry a weapon, you know that I have never been convicted of a felony, or even a violent misdemeanor in the last 10 years. You know that I don’t have any drug or alcohol addiction, and no history of mental problems. And you know that my county sheriff doesn’t consider me a threat to myself or others. Do you know all of that about any of your other customers?”

And here, for emphasis, I must state that what the author states is actually not true. There are two problems with the statement which make the whole thing meaningless in the situtation in question.

  1. The author is not carrying a permit in his holster, visible for all to see and read – hee is carrying a gun. So the first problem is, the person he is talking to doesn’t know he is a permit carrying gun owner. This might seem a silly explanation on my part, but it’s still true – no one can tell by seeing a gun on another person if that person is legally licensed to carry that gun. It might be absurd to think someone would carry a firearm openly when not carrying a permit or when having the firearm would be illegal (felony convictions, on government property where weapons are prohibited, etc.). But if criminals were all smart, we wouldn’t know about so many of them, would we? They would be better able to cover what they are doing.
  2. The person the author is speaking to is very unlikely to know the legal requirements to get a permit and carry a gun if he is not a gun owner himself. Just because the author knows the law and knows that there can be no felony convictions or violent misdemeanors in the past 10 years or all the other things he says doesn’t mean everyone does. I am not a gun-control believer at all, but I know almost nothing about people who have permits and carry guns, because I’ve not tried to learn the rules/laws which govern gun ownership and carrying firearms. Take that a step further to the point of view of someone scared of gun-owners or who favors gun control and hopefully you can understand that the person answering probably doesn’t know anything about the author.

In this situation, these two issues are huge to me. The author can only see his side of the situation. He makes a claim that might normally be reasonable from his point of view view, but given that he already has seen people are uncomfortable in the situtation he chooses to ignore the likelihood that his view might not be the view of those asking him to follow store policy. Unless only licensed gun owners carry firearms, the things you know about me claim unfortunately does not hold true.

He had no reply.

Of course not. He was scared: Big person, Visible firearm, Threat of lost sales for the store (which is still a threat, and will still activate fight or flight reflexes). The employee can only see someone who wants his way and is willing to imply 35,000 people will stop shopping there because he doesn’t agree with the rules. Probably the employee just wants the entire situation to end so he can go back to his normally quiet workday.

The author does get a response from the company, but he doesn’t seem to like it.

“BTW, their letter is misleading, I never raised the issue of civil rights, because I firmly believe that companies have every right to ban whomever they please, I just think it is not fair for them to hide the fact.”

I suspect this letter is an adjusted version of a pre-written letter. It is unfortunate that the letter did not specifically address the author’s situation, and it is misleading. I would be willing to bet that in the past, others who have been asked to leave their guns outside the store and who questioned the policy did raise the civil rights issue. And given the litigious nature of many in this country, CostCo representatives may have felt they had to explain that in advance to avoid threats of lawsuits – a threat which even if baseless can result in wasted spending to clear up. Rather than waiting for the author to write back and say he has a Constitutionally guaranteed right to carry his gun in CostCo (and I’m not saying the author would do that, but that the store representative/legal department are anticipating that possibility) or that he felt his rights were violated, the letter is written to pre-emptively address that.

I know the gentleman who wrote this article has a legal right to carry. I feel confident thinking that his presence and his firearm made the store, employees, and other members safer based on what I know from friends of mine who carry and practice frequently. I understand that he doesn’t like the policy. He has a right to take his business elsewhere. Although I think returning all his items when asked to leave his gun outside is over-the-top, that is also his choice and his right. But mocking the employees who were uncomfortable with the situation is pointless. Taking pleasure in rudeness in this situation only makes gun-control activists more motivated to limit gun-owners rights. Acting as if the store employees did something wrong in trying to enforce the company’s policy makes no sense to me. Making an implied economic retribution threat doesn’t do anything to encourage policy change.

In the end, I’m left amazed that the author can’t see why non-gun owners react the way they do to gun owners. He hasn’t educated anyone on why the policy does not improve safety. He has not made any apparent effort to get CostCo to change their policy, but his apparent negative treatment (even if not overtly hostile) will certainly make those in charge of policy decisions think the gun-ban is the right decision. He hasn’t done anything to help these people understand that they are probably safer with him in the store carrying a firearm rather than leaving it in his car. All he has done is set back gun owners in any efforts to get CostCo decision makers to change this policy. And he seems proud of himself for that.

Resolving situations like this calls for education, not threats and causing a scene.  That’s how I learned what was wrong with gun control – people I know explained to me the difference between reality and the lies spread by control activists.  There are plenty of people who are willing to learn if someone will rationally deal with them.

[tags]How not to improve gun rights, Punishing employees when you disagree with a stores policies[/tags]

5 thoughts on “Do a lot of gun owners act this way?”

  1. > membership rules which require leaving the gun outside the store

    Not membership rules, but “company policy” (that fact alone seems to be up for question now). This seems to that store policy. Irregardless, even if it is membership rules, state laws require establishments to have a sign posted at entrance(s).

    State laws very from state to state, some states say “entrance,” leaving it open for just one entrance while others states say “all entrances.” In fact, most states require a specific sign, of a specific size with specific wording and placed within ‘n’ feet of the entrance.

    > “I asked if I could get some sort of written statement or copy of the policy, because there were 35,000 permit holders in the state of Minnesota alone who were going to want to know about it.”

    Later you state…

    > You even said, “Rather than seeking to change the rules…”

    He wanted to gets this document, in fact, to have some proof to do just that. In order to change the rules you would need some proof to bind the community together against this rule. Then letters could be written, and possibly in the end Costco’s bottom line effected for Costco to reevaluate their rules.

    This worked with Wal-Mart. Even though (most) Wal-Mart sells both guns and ammunition they had a company policy of no firearms allowed. People assemble, bitched to Wally World, and rules were changed. Now they allow firearms so long as they are concealed.

    > gun outside the store

    People stating this are just plain ignorant. In this example, and assuming Costco is ‘heaven on earth’ and safe as the bosom of your mother, leaving the “gun outside the store” would require most to leave it at home. Why? Because people that carry do so because of the world we live in. Two options here; One, leave it at home and travel to and fro Costco unarmed with no other stops (ever hear of car-jackings?)… Or 2) Leave it in your car in the hopes that some puke does not break in for the change in your center console and find a firearm under the seat– now instead of basic B&E and $6.78 in change, you have just graduated said puke to robbing a liquor store, armed muggings, et al.

    Just to make clear, this letter came from the store, not the company.


  2. I have responded via email, but wanted to post my response here as well (and I’m going to have to fix this comment posting box to be more usable – I never realized how small the editing area is, and I know small things…).
    Thanks, Tim. I was hoping you would correct me where I made errors or things that I didn’t know. I will update the post with some of the information you’ve supplied and what I’ve learned by looking further into this matter and applicable laws. This is a way long reply, and that was not my intention, but I’ve learned a lot and wanted to respond carefully. Hopefully I haven’t messed up my understand more on looking at this further.

    I was not aware of the state laws requiring signs. I’ve found in researching this a bit that some states requires signs or a statement to the effect that guns are prohibited, which is a rather vague requirement. It seems that states with the statement requirement might allow notification via means such as a membership agreement, but I’ve not gotten that point solid yet one way or another. Regardless of that, in Minnesota, the law does require signs, and is very clear on the guidelines for this. The details I found are at and I’m sure there are other sites with that or more information. Particularly interesting to me in that bill is that not only are signs required at every entrance to the store (as you noted), but the signs alone are not sufficient – a personal request to individuals carrying guns must also be made for the ban to take effect. In other words, as you’ve already noted, CostCo cannot simply tell someone guns are not allowed – they must post a sign *AND* inform them. I am curious as to whether including that information in a membership agreement is sufficient to meet the inform the person requirement – I suspect not since the specific wording is “personally inform” them. Researching the CostCo membership agreement does not turn up anything where this policy is stated, though, so even if inclusion on a membership agreement were enough, it does not appear that CostCo takes this step anyway. Thank you for giving me the information I needed to know to look further into this.

    I can’t agree that he wanted the statement about the gun ban in order to work on changing it without seeing something in the story indicating that. I can understand why you would think that, but since he doesn’t say anywhere that he is requesting the written statement for that purpose, I read it as his wanting proof of policy so as to recommend that other gun owners not shop there. In other words, to me it looks like he wanted to further follow through on his implied threat of lost business. I’m not trying to dissuade you or say you are wrong, but rather to make clear why I view the request in the light I do. In fact, I hope that was his intention and that my initial thinking is wrong – I just don’t see where it is clear that was his intent.

    As for the don’t carry or don’t shop there, that is still an individual’s choice. I believe you are simply wrong in saying it is ignorant to suggest leaving the gun outside unless you also feel that leaving a weapon in a storage unit near work or home is ignorant as well. Nearly 15 years ago, my brother had over $10,000 of sound and electronics equipment stolen out of a storage facility with fencing, alarms, individual access codes, limited access times, and cameras in place. The person who did this (and robbed over 50 other units at the facility) was never caught. Theft from a storage unit is just as possible as theft from a vehicle. The only question to me on that front is probability, but we don’t have to consider that, because you indicated that any risk of theft was sufficient to eliminate that possible storage option.

    It seems that securing a firearm in a vehicle is better now than ever, given that vehicle lockboxes for firearms are available. Some states require certain law enforcement officers to use such lockboxes to secure weapons in vehicles in some instances where the officer can reasonably choose not to carry in some areas – New Jersey is one state for which I found information about this. The FBI offers lockboxes as an acceptable and valid protection method in cases where an agent does not carry a firearm, such as interviewing convicted criminals in secured facilities – as agents, they have the priviledge of carrying, but many choose not to. However, some states prohibit law enforcement officers from using firearm lockboxes in vehicles, requiring either carrying at all times or not carrying at all. So I recognize this is not a universally acceptable solution now (and might not ever be). However, the option does exist, and is seen as sufficiently secure by at least some government entities as to be permitted or required in some instances. To me, this appears to move the option from leave the weapon at home or risk having it stolen to the options leave the weapon at home, risk having itstolen, or spend some money to secure it in a reasonable manner.

    Crime statistics nationwide show that home burglary thefts are about 10% more common per 100,000 people than vehicle thefts ( So leaving your gun at home means it is about 10% more likely to be exposed to potential theft than if you leave it in your car. If someone leaves a weapon unsecured in their home (and I’m not saying you, because my suspicion is you don’t leave your firearms unsecured in your house), it is more likely to end up being taken and used for a crime than a weapon left in a secured lockbox inside a vehicle. How can leaving a weapon inside a vehicle, if steps to secure it are taken, be considered ignorant? I’ll grant that a legitimate argument can be made that an additional financial penalty for normal daily living is applied to gun owners in that not only do they have to pay for the necessary documents showing that they are allowed to carry weapons, but they also have to pay for securing their weapons when chosing to patronize a location which does not permit guns. I don’t accept that securing a weapon inside a vehicle is not an option if those who carry firearms consider securing a weapon inside a house as an option. Many home gun cases I’ve seen have only been sufficient to protect against access by children or those most likely already not planning on accessing them. Glass display panes with sufficient space to reach a weapon if the glass is broken doesn’t seem any more secure from a burgler than a metal lockbox with cabling or rods to secure it to the vehicle. Maybe I’ve just seen the wrong gun cases or weapons inside the case are secured in a manner not obvious upon casual inspection.

    The source of the letter was not completely clear to me. I misunderstood that it came from the store manager of the store in question. I misread the letter as coming from a district manager, which lead me to believe it was from higher up. I not see where I was mistaken because I didn’t check the origination point against the story of where the event took place. I will be contacting CostCo corporate to find out more about their policy. The current policy, if correct by what is in that letter and applicable to all CostCo warehouses, is not enforceable at the store where this all happened (and likely any store, but I don’t know that for certain) without some changes to how they notify members.

  3. Ok let me just say this guy is a JERK! I don’t care if he does have a permit. Once you possess a permit there is no regular check to see if this guy has had mental issues later. Just because someone ONCE ran a background check doesn’t mean he hasn’t turned into a big obnoxious mental case in the meantime. Costco has the right to refuse service (which they did not). As for the signs at the entrance – Maybe stores should post when they DO allow weapons to be carried in their store. I can assure you that would hurt a business more. Don’t get me wrong – there are about 20 guns in my home and believe it is my right to have them. I do NOT believe a carry permit makes you any less dangerous than a criminal. Just my opinion.

  4. Holy cow! American’s are crazy. I can’t believe that anyone could think that anyone (police excluded) carrying a gun anywhere in any urban area is acceptable. No wonder there are 30000+ gun deaths a year.

  5. Are you kidding? were you aware that during the early 1900’s when gun permits were not even required there were less per-capita gun deaths in the united states than virtually any other first-world country?
    The thing is, that publically carrying firearms breeds an aura of respect. The more people carry guns as a means of self-defense, the fewer criminals there are that are willing to brave being shot in the street to commit violent crimes, even if they carry a gun.
    Are you cognizant of the number of gun deaths there are per year in London? Trust me, you would be shocked when you realize that it’s a lot higher than Dallas. Not to mention Knife deaths, baseball bat deaths, ‘stompin’ the guts outta someone’ deaths, and incidental-got-trampled-at-a-football-game deaths.
    Most people understand that when you make carrying a gun criminal, the only people that carry are criminals.

    Now, the guy in the post was a bit rude, true, although rudeness is not exactly illegal, although if the laws in the state of Minnesota require signs posted prohibiting firearms then technically asking him to disarm in the future IS illegal unless they had a sign.

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