"Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, no matter what name it is called." ~ John Stuart Mill
Column by Paul Bonneau.
Exclusive to STR
The sign in the window said, “No Firearms Allowed Inside”.
First thing that came to my mind was, “Great, now what am I supposed to do? Leave my gun out here lying on the sidewalk?” My next thought was, “I am trying to do business with morons.”
I was in front of the local office of my ISP provider, a company I have been patronizing for at least 6 years, maybe longer. (If you have an ISP in Wyoming, ask them if they have a firearms policy for their offices. If they do, take your business elsewhere.) Before that day, I had dealt with them over the Internet or via phone. I had no clue at all about their low opinion, or their fear, of people like me - you will find no whiff of hoplophobia on their website. I had just walked over there from my wife’s shop, and this sign was like a slap in the face. What a way to treat a customer! It must have felt a bit like this to people down South in the ‘60‘s and earlier, to see signs like “No dogs or niggers”. Not the sort of thing to raise one’s spirits, eh?
Some people might object, “Well, it’s not like black people had any choice in the matter, what color they were when they were born. A ’no guns’ sign is different.” I’ve actually heard such objections. Do people ever listen to themselves, to understand how they come off? This objection implicitly suggests there is something wrong with having ‘too much’ melanin. “It’s not their fault.” Sheesh. Would they feel better to see a sign that said, “No dogs or Jews?” After all, people do choose to remain Jewish.
Yes, I choose to be armed. After having been assaulted by racist skinheads years ago, it is who I am, every bit as much as someone’s choice of religion. I certainly don’t apologize for it.
Of course, as all here understand, I support freedom. I have no problem with people putting up any sign at all on their property. They can associate, or not, with anyone they please. That’s liberty for you. Shunning is a part of it, something we should support even if it can at times get a little ugly or unpleasant. Freedom of association cannot exist without it. “Discrimination” merely means choosing; there is nothing inherently wrong with it. There is lots wrong with not being able to do it.
However, shunning is not a cost-free proposition. While not quite the “nuclear option” of interpersonal relations, it comes pretty close. Rational people reserve it for those cases where no other option will work. For example, a small LDS community might use it to retain the character of the community. Not so fun if you are not LDS; but then maybe you shouldn’t be moving into a place where you don’t fit in, either.
No, after the initial shock, I did not mind being shunned so much. I can always find another ISP if they refuse to see the light and revise their policy.
After all, this is Wyoming. Ninety percent of households here have guns. Both open and concealed carry is legal without any permit, and some people (including myself) do carry openly on occasion. A simulated cowboy gunfight (with real guns, shooting blanks) takes place every summer evening barely a block from this ISP office, in front of the Irma Hotel (which Buffalo Bill Cody had built for his daughter). The town of Cody supports as many gun shops as the entire Portland metropolitan area. If this company wants to alienate 90% of their potential customer base, that is their business, not mine; but I have to wonder what are hoplophobes doing in a state like Wyoming, anyway?
It was just the dishonesty that bothered me. If they are gun haters, they should state that on their website. Then people won’t inadvertently be choosing an ISP that treats them like dirt. Of course that would lose them a lot of business in this state, so the dishonesty is understandable if not admirable.
Well, it bothered me too, that it was so dumb. Does anyone honestly feel safer with a sign like that in the window? One wishes for at least some rationality in one’s business associates.
I sent an email to them, asking about their policy. I received a breezy reply confirming they indeed had a no-guns policy company-wide. Amusingly, this communication included a lawyerly non-disclosure agreement at the bottom implying they would sue me if I reproduced it publicly. Now there’s a company that knows how to treat its customers!
Apparently to some people, such as these, choosing to wear a gun or not, is like choosing whether to wear black or brown shoes. I wonder if they would put a sign in front of their business saying, “No Brown Shoes inside - it offends our aesthetic sensibilities!” I suspect they wouldn’t.
And leaving the gun in the car? Makes lots of sense, leaving a gun in a car sitting in front of a business with a “No Guns” sign. Might as well put a sign on your dashboard saying “Gun in this car! Easy pickings!” The kids in the high school a block away from this business will appreciate it. This is not an idle concern, either; an old (now deceased) friend had a gun stolen out of his car just two blocks from that location, probably by some kids from that very same high school. No, if you are going to carry a gun, it belongs on you at all times, not in your car. At least the good news is, those Wyoming kids probably know well how to use a stolen gun, and thus avoid shooting themselves in the ass with it. Look at the bright side, I suppose...
Liberty means we have a choice how to live our lives. It does not guarantee that our choices will make any sense.
Maybe they just don’t realize how offensive that sign appears. We all make social blunders now and then.