Thursday, December 5, 2013

The wrong way to right

A recent article on Huffington Post caught my attention. With all the recent debates around gun violence and firearm control, there is more pressure than ever on elected officials, their advisors, and on local and state governments to formulate a response. Worse still is the pressure being placed on them by advocacy groups on both sides of the issue, such as the NRA.

Well, there's a new group on the gun control side, and their approach is somewhat different. The group "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense" is going after private companies, demanding that they restrict their customer's ability to bring firearms into their locations.

While I understand this group's concern, and I believe in common-sense gun restrictions, I don't think this is the best way to go about pushing for reform. The main issue I have is that, unless the company has a strong reason to be for or against gun control, they're not likely to alienate half their customers by taking a public stance on the issue. And while there are those who would argue that companies should do what's right rather than what's profitable, I would argue that companies exist to be profitable. Whether that's good or bad is another debate, but it makes no sense to disregard reality.

The other reason I don't necessarily agree with this approach is because it opens up a legal can of worms for companies who do this. Let's say a company complies with this request, and no longer allows customers to carry firearms in their stores. A person in a state where this would otherwise be allowed could easily sue the company for denying their right to bear arms, and they could potentially win. Just having such a lawsuit would be bad publicity for gun control in general.

If we are going to change the way we approach gun rights, we need to do it in a universal, balanced way that invites public inclusion. I strongly support common-sense gun control, and fervently believe that it is the responsibility of our elected representatives to deal with this issue. While special interest groups, non-profits, and prominent individuals can put their weight behind various initiatives and plans, I don't believe that private companies should be cornered into making a public statement about gun control, whether they support it or not.

And just as I don't believe private companies should get involved in the debate, I don't believe they should be able to opt out of any laws that are passed at the state or federal level. In general, but certainly in the case of gun control laws, companies should not get special treatment.

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