I recently had a conversation with a married couple in the store to look for an anniversary ring. He had seen our store listed on the website for a group called Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC). The OFCC website has a “Do Not Patronize While Armed” list providing information on businesses that do not allow customers to carry on the premises. They also publish a “Safe Alternatives” list showing those businesses which welcome CHL (Concealed Handgun License) holders. I am an active participant on their forums and use their website to keep up on legislative and legal matters regarding concealed carry in Ohio. I have a Concealed Handgun License and my store is on the Safe Alternatives list. I welcome those who are upstanding, law-abiding citizens.
With the busy Christmas season right around the corner, I want to address the issue of firearms in the jewelry store.
I don’t want to stir up a debate concerning the legality of carrying concealed firearms, but instead, would like to illuminate some ethical dilemmas faced by us, the store owners and our customers.
I have owned firearms for a number of years. I believe in the right of a person to feel secure at all times. The jewelry industry has had issues with security from day one. Where else can you find such a massed value in a nearly untraceable and compact form? You can fit literally millions of dollars into your pockets and blend in with any crowd. I don’t have to tell any of you how tempting a smorgasbord this is, which brings me to the issue of keeping us safe while doing business.
Some stores with enough budget can opt to hire a guard. The presence of an armed guard is probably one of the best deterrents. Camera systems, of course, are practically a requirement today, as are alarm systems and hold-up buttons. A couple of years ago, I began to think about the worst-case scenario. We have all heard stories of robberies turning into executions. This is a terrifying prospect. I decided I needed to be more prepared.
About three years ago, I made the decision to carry a firearm while in the store. The line of thought leading to this conclusion is as follows:
I don’t care about the merchandise. If you want it that badly, I’ll close the store, box it up and carry it to the car for you. Take it. Just leave me alone. That’s why I pay my insurance premiums. Let the insurance company do some work for a change.
I looked at the pictures of my wife and children and thought about the horror of not being able to see and hold them again. I want to have every possible tool at my disposal to ensure my survival, should a robbery turn into such a nightmare scenario.
I know that just having a weapon cannot guarantee my safety. Even using a weapon against an armed assailant may not prevent any harm from befalling me, BUT... it will provide me with an equal force of response, and will greatly improve my chances of surviving an armed encounter. Thinking about my family, I wanted to have every bit of help I could get. 9-1-1 is a fantastic asset and will get help to us in a hurry, but think for a minute...what’s the fastest police response time in your community? Believe me when I tell you that the criminals in any area also have this information. “When seconds count, the police are minutes away.”
No response is as fast as the bullet fired from a robber’s gun. Even if you have a SWAT team at your door, they cannot stop some murderous thug bent on ending your life if he’s standing in front of you. The police can process the scene of the crime, identify the robbers, even catch them and solve the crime, but they cannot be expected to be there to intervene at that critical moment when you may have your life on the line.
Quite simply, I feel safer while armed. Those customers who also have CHL’s can also feel safer in my store knowing that they do not have to leave their protection locked up in the car. I feel no threat whatsoever from the CHL carrying community. I know from experience that I have nothing to fear from a customer trying on a $40,000.00 ring while packing a .45 automatic. These people went through an NRA training course and an FBI background check in order to receive their license to carry a concealed handgun. This gives me some common ground with which to bond with my carrying customers as well.
It’s the unlicensed guy with a gun hidden in his pocket, who concerns me. Criminals entering a jewelry store with the intention of robbing it and perhaps harming others in the process do not give one seconds’ thought about the little sticker on the door glass prohibiting firearms from the premises. Actually, it may embolden them by ensuring that there will be no one in the store who can counter their actions with equal force.
A rather snobbish woman once asked me, “Do you think you’ll ever really need to use that gun?” I simply told her “I pray I never have to.”
I carry a firearm on my person whenever I leave the house. It’s better to have it and never have to use it, than not have it when you need it most. I’m not Rambo, John Wayne or the Terminator. I have decided to take on the awesome responsibility of my own well-being and the personal safety of those around me. The reality of the situation is that I am ultimately responsible for every bullet fired from my weapon. I must be absolutely confident in my ability to assess a threatening situation and appropriately decide when the moment has come to draw and even fire my weapon. I must be sure that I am willing to accept the possibility of having to take a life to save my own, or someone else’s. I must also be prepared to make a split-second assessment of my line of sight, what’s behind my target, are there people there who could be injured or killed if I miss? Those are some pretty hefty things to ponder. I am constantly assessing and evaluating my surroundings and the people coming and going in the shop.
“We must carry arms because we value our lives and those of our loved ones, because we will not be dealt with by force or threat of force, and do not live at the pleasure and discretion of the lawless.” - Jeff Snyder
Some might call me paranoid. Some will call me a yahoo, cowboy or try to label me as a vigilante. I am none of those things. I have simply come to the conclusion that my life is valuable, as are the lives of my customers, many of which have become dear friends over the years. I want to make it home for dinner... at all costs.
By Al Solymosi, Jr.