‘No-gun’ signs paint state in bad light

Published 5:15pm Friday, October 18, 2013

The number of no-gun posted signs have been increasing in the state of Mississippi. I have had friends post their property and I am not maligning anyone for doing so.

It is the right of the property owner to post them. I support their rights as strenuously as I do Second Amendment rights. I ask the people with signs on their businesses to consider the following:

We receive reports from many areas of Mississippi about firearm issues. The consensus of opinion is that the no gun signs are painting the state in a bad light to visitors and tourists.

Several businessmen in Mississippi have had visitors from out of state ask about the gun problem in Mississippi. Mississippi does not have a serious gun problem, the city of Chicago with its restrictive gun laws has a serious gun problem.

The reason for all the posting of signs is the clarification of open carry in House Bill 2. Our state constitution has allowed open carry since 1890. We know this is the reason for the posting of property because we have been carrying concealed handguns in many of the newly posted businesses for 22 years, with very few problems.

Most people do not know that HB2 also retains the penalty for brandishing a handgun in a threatening manner not in necessary self defense, or use of the same unlawfully in a fight or quarrel, shall be fined not exceeding $500 and three months in the county jail. This part of the Mississippi Code punishes even a non-firing offense of the Mississippi Concealed Carry Law.

Citizens of Mississippi have to act responsibly while legally carrying a handgun or the face significant punishment for that irresponsibility.

Another topic to think about is that although many firearm industry manufacturing plants are located in the Northeast and other States unfriendly toward firearms, some of these manufacturers are considering moving at least some of their manufacturing plants from these areas. Among the businesses disenchanted with state laws in the northeast are manufacturers such as Beretta, Colt, Remington and Ruger.

Speaker of the House, Rep. Phillip Gunn has made the statement that he is actively recruiting these manufacturers to relocate in Mississippi. We have two firearm industry manufacturers that have moved to Mississippi recently. Olin Industry’s Winchester-Western Division has built a 500,000 square foot ammunition plant in Oxford, and Talon Industries has opened its factory in Ridgeland.

These additions to our manufacturing base have increased our tax revenues and created needed jobs. Property owners posting the signs should consider how the signs look to representatives of the firearm industry and all other industry representatives who come to Mississippi to research the possibility of moving to our State.

If they go to Alabama, Louisiana or Oklahoma, states that also have open carry, you will not see this huge amount of no gun signs. We believe our state could be passed over by new industries as a result of the large number of no gun signs posted here.

In Pike County, it is hard to find a gas station or convenience store without a sign.

A lot of the no gun signs posted in some areas are identical in materials and text. We believe someone is alarming businessmen and donating no gun signs to them. We had the same knee jerk reaction to the laws concerning legal carry of handguns in our vehicles without a permit and the recent Enhanced Firearms License Law, expanding legal concealed carry to locations formerly restricted.

In both cases stated, the doom and gloom preached by those against the changes in the law never happened. The truth is, if you give honest citizens additional Second Amendment based freedom, there is little change in society and crime decreases.

Criminals and sociopaths do not obey gun laws anyway and posted signs mean nothing to them.

A person holding a Mississippi Enhanced Firearms License has passed an FBI background check, had their fingerprints taken and passed a recognized firearms training class.

How much do businessmen that erect the no-gun signs know about the rest of their customers? People in our state and country should be able to distinguish criminals from law-abiding citizens but apparently some cannot tell the difference.

Doug Bowser of McComb is the secretary of the Southwest Mississippi Gun Club and president of NRA’s Mississippi State Firearm Owners Association.