By Bill Gilbert | Feb 14, 2012
How far do we need to go to protect our businesses, our customers, our property and, most importantly, our lives?
As a former law enforcement officer and now a commercial laundry equipment distributor, I have combined my past experiences and have answered a great deal of questions from many of you about the need for a good security camera system and perimeter alarm. I’ve also stressed the need to alter your collection schedules. These suggestions were to help deter theft and assist with the protection of your laundry investments.
Apparently, these suggestions are being heeded and are working well, because it seems to me that laundry owners these days have been asking fewer questions about protecting their buildings and equipment in this way.
However, the interest (or at least curiosity) in protecting themselves and their businesses through the possession of firearms seems to be on the rise.
The questions I receive most often from laundry owners deal with the concealed carrying of a pistol or CCW (concealed carry weapon), the possession of a CWP (concealed weapons permit), or even whether or not they should allow others with a concealed weapon into their stores.
First of all, I’m not going to preach to anyone. You’re all big boys and girls, and the decision to carry a firearm or not should be yours alone. Of course, if you decide to possess a weapon, it must be only after you have become 100 percent comfortable with the operation of the firearm you wish to carry, have received the proper “Shoot/Don’t Shoot” training, and are familiar with the local laws governing the possession of a concealed weapon in your state.
Some states – such as Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming – allow their legal residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit or any formal training. These states are classified as having an “unrestricted jurisdiction” or “Constitutional carry,” which harkens back to the Old West cowboy days.
“May-Issue jurisdiction” states require a permit to carry a concealed gun, but it’s normally issued without training by a local sheriff’s or police department. In some cases, these permits are issued to individuals with celebrity status, political connections or a high degree of wealth.
“Shall-Issue jurisdiction” states (and, fortunately, there are 38 of them, including South Carolina) are those requiring a permit to carry a concealed handgun, as long as a certain criteria described by law is met. This means that one must pass a written exam, qualify on a firing range and pass a criminal background check.
Illinois and the District of Columbia are considered to have “No-Issue jurisdictions,” thus forbidding residents from “lawfully” concealing or openly carrying a gun; however, recent federal lawsuits and legislation have been introduced to possibly change this. But, for now, Illinois is the only state that doesn’t allow some type of concealed weapons permit – nor does it recognize permits from other states.
Out of the 49 states with some type of weapons possession law, 37 of them have “Reciprocity agreements,” or recognize the permits of other states. However, if you have a CWP and own a business in a neighboring state, I would strongly suggest you do your due diligence and research the status on the state or states you go through or visit.
South Carolina is one of 12 states with an “Opt-Out” statute, which allows private businesses to post a specific sign prohibiting concealed firearms inside their buildings. This statute is similar to the regulations concerning schools, hospitals and public gatherings.
These “gun-free zone” signs posted by businesses must meet state or local laws that define the proper appearance, placement and wording of the sign. In other words, if the sign is too big, too small, the wrong size, worded incorrectly or not displayed in the proper manner, anyone who has been issued a CWP can still legally enter this business.
Personally, I’m not sure how effective these “gun-free zones” are, because it appears that only law-abiding individuals will heed the signage and disarm themselves, while the bad guys who are determined to rob these businesses are not going to let a sign deter them from committing their crimes.
It’s a shame that we are even in a position that the choice of arming oneself to protect what is rightfully yours is being considered at all. Even if jobs were plentiful and the economy had completely turned around tomorrow, the criminal element would still be there to take what is not theirs – and often hurt those who stand in their way.
That’s my opinion. And all I can do is stress that laundry owners be aware, be prepared and be safe.