The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Gun-Free Zone Laws

Illustrations by Joe Oesterle

Gun-Free Zone Laws: Can a Business Infringe on Your Constitutional Right to Carry a Firearm?

“Sir, do you mind coming with me to the lobby?” asks a shadowy figure in a most discouraging voice, as an usher points you out.

“What’s the problem officer?” you ask.

“Just please come with me, sir,” he responds.

You look up from your seat at the movie theater, and standing there is a uniformed police officer and a theater employee. Recent terror attacks have caused you to be protective of your family; thus, you’re carrying an inside-the-waistband concealed firearm. The officer brings you to the side of the lobby and tells you the police department has received a complaint about your possessing a concealed firearm on your person.

The officer says a fellow patron reported that he saw a gun on your hip when you reached for drinks at the concession stand. This patron told the theater staff, and they called the police. At this point, what can you do? What are your rights and responsibilities? Lastly, what if the theater has a conspicuously displayed “no firearms” sign as people enter the theater? The officer then asks, “Do you have any firearms on you, sir?” He moves toward you as though he’s ready to pat you down.

Carrying Concealed Without a Permit
At this point in the discussion, we look at the jurisdiction. If your state or city doesn’t allow concealed carry, you’re in serious trouble. A misdemeanor charge for sure. A felony charge in those jurisdictions that require a permit when the person is ineligible for a permit. Illinois, Hawaii, and Connecticut come to mind. For a point of clarity, we’re discussing those law-abiding individuals who exercise their right, but have not gone through the permit process.

For purposes of this discussion, these circumstances exclude those persons who have lost their right to possess a firearm due to felony conviction. For all others who carry a concealed weapon without the proper permit or license, they’re normally charged with misdemeanor possession of a concealed weapon.

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In the last five years, Arizona changed its laws to allow for concealing a weapon without a concealed weapons permit, with one key admonition: During law enforcement contact, you must declare the firearm immediately as being in your possession.

In Connecticut, the possession of an unregistered firearm is a felony that puts the subject in prison for one to five years. So, the point is — check your local laws to determine rights and responsibilities on concealed carry. If a permit is required, obtain one. If for any reason you’re ineligible, for example due to a domestic violence incident, then abstain from possessing a firearms and first aggressively fight to restore your right to possess, legally.

The Abyss of Trespass With a Concealed Weapons Permit
In the theater example above, you have a concealed weapons permit. You’re properly trained in the use of firearms. You live in a city and state that allow for conceal carry. So you’re legal … or so you thought. Let’s examine the trend with businesses and firearms.

The officer, in the same example above, asks if you have any weapons or firearm on your person. You say, “yes.” He turns and points to one of those signs that shows a pistol circled in red with a red line drawn diagonally. This clearly means “no firearms.” This instruction is clearly and conspicuously posted where persons enter the premises.

What can you be charged with in this setting? Said again, totally lawful individual with a completely lawful firearm.

“Sir, you’re under arrest for trespass.”

You say: “What! Why?”

The officer says, “You’re welcome to visit the theater, but firearms aren’t allowed. You saw the sign as you handed your ticket to the theater attendant. You entered the theater with a firearm.

Thus, you have exceeded your permissive use of the property and were not welcome possessing a firearm. You’re under arrest.”

The charge is a misdemeanor.

I can hear the roar of readers saying, “Well don’t tell the police you have a firearm and refuse to answer any questions.” OK, but remember the officer is conducting an investigation, and pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, a United States Supreme Court decision, the officer will then say, “For officer safety while I conduct this investigation, I will need you to raise your hands and turn around so I can check you for weapons.”

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For the rest of this article, subscribe here: Concealment 4


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