Private Institutions and Gun Ownership

800px-Buffalo_Wild_Wings_-_Hillsboro,_OregonThere has been much made of private businesses restricting guns on their properties and in one case a bank that refused to do business with gun dealers. A riotous backlash from a majority of Americans ensued over private businesses restricting their Second Amendment rights. Here’s what happened and here’s why, in this case, Americans have it wrong.

The first example that I saw, today in fact, on Facebook, was a picture of a sign on a Buffalo Wild Wings door that said “Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. bans guns on these premises”

The person who posted it included this with his post: “Can’t do business with a company that spits on the constitution.” But are they? Not really. The company, as a private business, has every right to ban guns on their privately owned property, as much as they have every right to ban people from their establishment. You don’t have an unrestricted right to bring a gun onto private property. A private homeowner can say “no guns in my home or on my property” and they have every right to do so. Businesses have an equal right to do so as well. Their buildings aren’t public property.

As a gun rights supporter do I like this? No, obviously not. First, I find it an invitation to criminals to rob the restaurants, as there will be no armed defense. Last place I want to be is in a place where a possibly violent robbery is more likely than not. But I recognize their right to stupidity, and vote with my feet, so to speak and not eat at their establishment. The pocketbook can be a lot more powerful than the courts or the legislature!

Speaking of that brings me to my next example: Bank of America. There have been numerous reports of BOA refusing to do business with people who buy and sell guns. I checked the two known claims out on Snopes.com and they call it undetermined.

One incident was from April of 2012 involving McMillan Group. The Director of Operations for McMillan Group reported that the Sr. Vice President and Marketing Manager, Business Banking and Global Commercial Banking, Ray Fox, asked for a meeting to review their business dealings, was in fact refusing to do further business with McMillan because they had become an arms and ammunition manufacturer. When contacted by Snopes, BOA said they wouldn’t comment on the McMillan situation, but it that it had “no policies that would prohibit us from doing business with clients in [the firearms] industry” and pointed to an article published in that month about a large deal involving a BOA and Freedom Group Inc., another firearms and ammunition manufacturer.

Do I find it credible that this could happen? Sure. Large corporations often have communication problems and employees that abuse their power for the sake of furthering their own political agendas. Policies are often broken. So yes, I believe this could be true.

In December of 2012, the owner of American Spirit Arms, Joe Sirochman, posted a blurb on his Facebook profile about his dealings with BOA. In short, he alleged that BOA was holding his deposits. He further alleged that when he called to find out why, he was told by a manager that “we believe you should not be selling guns and parts on the internet.” When asked by Snopes, BOA said that the situation with Mr. Sirochman was because “any spike in transaction volumes is routinely reviewed by the bank in order to protect our customers. This process is initiated regardless of the industry in which they do business.”

Do I think that what was said was actually said? Probably. But there has, in fact, been a huge surge in arms and ammunition sales in the past few months due to the brouhaha over possible gun bans. So it’s possible that BOA did just as it said.

The last was a YouTube video posted by showing a woman named “Freida” talking with BOA customer service about how a recent attempt to make a purchase of a weapon was denied when she used her BOA credit or debit card. Shortly after it was posted, the video was made private, and the incident has been publicly denied by BOA. Snopes also called this false.

Regardless of the questionability of the banking policies, and there would be some question here as to whether a policy such as this made by a federally insured bank could ban doing business with or completing sales of legal products, private businesses and groups can make policies that offend or ban certain sales. A grocery store can make the decision not to sell alcohol or cigarettes. A book retailer can decide not to sell any genre of literature that it finds questionable. Chick-Fil-A’s owner can make statements in support of his view on traditional marriage. We aren’t given the Constitutional Right not to be offended, so businesses make decisions daily about what is best for them. And they have the right to do so.

What we, as citizens and consumers, also have rights, but not necessarily enshrined in our Constitution. We have the right to take a stand with our pocketbooks. If you disagree with the policy of a store, bank or other business, don’t patronize them. Use the power of capitalism and take your business to a place it is more welcome. Problem solved.

Image: Author M.O. Stevens; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

About the author: Suzanne Olden

Suzanne Reisig Olden is a Catholic Christian, Conservative, married mother of two, who loves God, family and country in that order. She lives northwest of Baltimore, in Carroll County, Maryland. She graduated from Villa Julie College/Stevenson University with a BS in Paralegal Studies and works as a paralegal for a franchise company, specializing in franchise law and intellectual property. Originally from Baltimore, and after many moves, she came home to raise her son and daughter, now high school and college aged, in her home state. Suzanne also writes for The Firebreathing Conservative website ( www.firebreathingconservative.com) and hopes you'll come visit there as well for even more discussion of conservative issues.

View all articles by Suzanne Olden

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