I remain bewildered by new signs posted on various businesses that declare they are a “Weapons Free Zone.” Recent ones even include a picture of a knife, for which they wish to be included in the description of banned weapons. Wow, now my folding pocket knife with a 1 and 3/4-inch blade, small slot head screwdriver, bottle opener and nail file is even a “weapon” to be left outside.

What these signs really mean and should state is, “Victim Rich Environment.” Both tell the bad guy he has complete control inside, except the Victim Rich is clearer and more descriptive. Besides, at this very minute the news is reporting a school shooting in New Mexico, in a “Weapons Free Zone” no less.

But this is what is so ridiculous about the “Weapons Free Zone” signs. You have to somehow know a person has a “weapon” on them, you have to ask them to remove it from your premises, and only if they refuse can you call the police to have them issue a citation for misdemeanor trespassing.

However, here is what confuses me more about this issue. As a retired law enforcement officer I have been licensed to carry a firearm for over four decades. But instead of me being told to take my weapons outside, I have instead immediately violated my concealed carry permit issued under federal law simply for bringing my firearm (and now maybe even pocket knife) into the business. That is because of the federal law, found in 18 USC 926C, which states, “This section shall not be construed to supersede or limit the laws of any State that — (1) permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property.” That means the possession of a concealed weapon with a permit issued under federal law to qualified retired law enforcement officers, is not valid when a property owner wishes to restrict possession of weapons.

So, who are you worried about here? Are you concerned more with:

a) the currently active or retired law enforcement officer, licensed under federal law, with legal requirements for recurrent qualification on a range of fire, that is in immediate violation of their federal concealed carry, or;

b) the person licensed by the state to carry firearms, who maybe never had to prove proficiency in handling the weapon, but yet gets a chance at a warning to leave instead of being in immediate violation?

I will give you my response. Don’t expect me to darken the doors of your business, because I choose to not become a willing victim in compliance with your ridiculous sign on the door. Yes, that would be the sign that has never, ever done anything to stop any bad guy, anywhere.

Enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling with your false sense of security. You’re on your own. You should demand your employer provide visual profiling and threat response training, because you may need it.

I’ll be outside. Best of luck to you.

Lester Shields,


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