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Letter: Policy needed for guns in public places

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Bruce Thomason


The recent Republic article (“No Charges Filed,” May 31) on the local accidental weapon discharge at Walmart caused me to contemplate the potential horrendous outcome for the injured victim, her newborn infant, others in the immediate vicinity (i.e., within the roughly hundred-yard “potential kill zone” that could have resulted), as well as to the rest of us in the public who are daily exposed to similar risk of harm.

As you read this, please note that I am not invested in any position on gun control beyond the level of concern for safety of self, family, friends and society at large — a common goal for people of good will.

It struck me that a public policy improvement would be to require locations that are open to the public to be weapon-free by default and to require businesses that allow weapons to post that fact at points of entry. Most governmental offices and school buildings and zones are required to be weapon-free, and I see advantages to the public having greater understanding and clarity about the potential presence of weapons in other public spaces.

This policy would help advise weapon carriers where they are welcome to carry.

It would also allow those wishing to reduce their exposure to weapons to make informed choices on where they spend their time.

This would be a vast improvement over the present situation, which results in a vagueness regarding whether fellow business patrons may be bearing weapons.

This suggested policy has the dual advantages of not infringing on anyone’s right to bear arms and not infringing on the rights of a business to choose whether to allow or disallow weapons on its premises.

I call upon our relevant legislative bodies to consider this proposal and members of the public to weigh in with their representatives on the matter. I do not know or claim that this is an original idea.

Should this concept need a name I offer “Weapon-Free By Default.”

I also suggest that, lacking such a public policy, businesses be called upon to voluntarily post whether they are either “weapons not allowed” or “weapons allowed” so as to help us, the public, be better informed. Such a voluntary declaration is an improvement over none at all but inferior to a required posting of “weapons allowed,” as many businesses may remain silent on the matter.

To those responding to this letter, I respectfully suggest that input be cast in terms of reason and practicality rather than emotion and tradition.

The former can contribute to good policy more than the latter.

We should count our blessings that no greater harm occurred in the recent unfortunate Walmart incident and also pause to consider means to help empower those who would choose to reduce their exposure to similar risk in the future.

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