Welcome to Georgia Gun Owner’s Merchant Awareness Program, where we do our part to make Georgia safer by educating businesses about the dangers of creating a “Criminal Safezone” in their establishment. Put bluntly, we believe Georgia is a safer place with free, law-abiding citizens carrying firearms. Concealed or open carry, it makes a criminal think twice.
The Merchant Awareness Program is our way of knowing who doesn’t want us to carry in their establishments, and respecting those wishes, while giving them facts so that they might make a more informed decision about self-protection.
Georgia Gun Owners’ Merchant Awareness Program serves two important functions:
It is an evolving database of posted merchants that serves notice to permit holders where not to break the law by carrying concealed handguns… it’s a list of merchants who don’t want law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons on their premises.
It serves notice to posted merchants that permit holders, as principled individuals, will not do business where their right to lawful, armed self-defense from violent criminal attack is denied.
When GGO receives information that a merchant or business dependent on public goodwill is posted, our organization sends a formal letter of protest to that businesses’ owner of record or corporate CEO or president. The letter politely informs the merchant or business that:
Permit holders have undergone scrutiny by both state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Merchants who post against concealed carry invite criminal mayhem from individuals looking for easy targets of opportunity.
Merchants who post against concealed carry have implied assumed responsibility for the safety of their patrons and may face financial redress in the event of a criminal act, which results in injury/death of a patron.
Gun owners are consumers who represent a valuable commodity.
The name and address of the posted merchant or business is then added to a computer database which you see on this web site (coming soon!) and in your newsletter (if you are an GGO member, that is). If the merchant or business removes their posting signs, the name of that merchant or business is removed from the list of banning businesses. Merchants who do not remove their signs receive a follow-up letter and may also receive ‘extra attention’ in the form of postcard mailings or, if necessary, negative publicity events (picketing). Merchants who are caught cheating also receive extra attention from Georgia Gun Owners.
The Merchant Contact Program and You
Georgia Gun Owners depends on information gathered from gun owners from around the state. Therefore the information provided GGO is only as accurate as what is provided us from you, the gun owner. The more information about a posted merchant provided the better.
Turning Observation Into Action
What do you do when you encounter a merchant or business that is posted against concealed carry? Grumble and walk away? Disarm yourself and spend your hard-earned dollars with a merchant who denies you your right to armed self-defense from societal predators? Or do you turn a problem into an opportunity?
Those businesses who change their policy and begin to allow gun owners in their establishment will not change their minds simply because they received a protest letter from GGO. Conversely, a letter from GGO will rarely be sufficient to convince a merchant to stop posting. Merchants stop posting because they receive a steady influx of complaints from the public… their former customers who make good on a promise to do business elsewhere until the posting policy is rescinded.
The “Rule of Thirds”
This program based on similar efforts by North and South Carolina firearms rights groups, who have done this successfully for years. Their experience has taught them what they refer to as “The Rule of Thirds”:
- One third of posted business will immediately rescind a posting policy upon receiving an overview of the benefit of concealed carry as a strong deterrent to violent crime. This overview can come from either a communication by GGO or a personal visit by a gun owner/permit holder(s).
- One third of posted business will rescind a posting policy in response to a protracted education effort by gun owners/permit holders.
- One third of posted business will refuse to rescind a posting policy no matter what information is presented them.
They’ve learned to write off the last third; it’s the first two-thirds we’d need to concern ourselves with.
Up Close and Personal: The Physical Visit
There are as many ways to conduct a merchant visit as there are permit holders to conduct them, so a hard-and-fast formula cannot be provided you. You will simply have to do what works best for you. Some people simply hand the merchant a copy of the newsletter and make a follow up visit at a later date. Others make more formal presentations.
Here is a list of Dos and Don’ts for your consideration:
- Conduct yourself as a professional. Dress appropriately – you don’t need to wear a suit and tie. but hunting attire/BDUs/cammies, dirty clothing, clothing in disrepair, or T-shirts with slogans which could be construed as controversial should be avoided. Present yourself as an ordinary guy or gal. Brush your teeth. Don’t wear sunglasses (they make you appear cold and secretive).
- Determine if the merchant or business is an individually owned proprietorship, a locally owned franchise, or part of a larger chain of stores.
- Recognize if and when you get “the run-around”. “We are required to post by law”, “Our insurance company made us do this”, and “It’s corporate policy” are common brush-off phrases we’ve heard. Learn to anticipate and deal with such claims appropriately. Oftentimes a chain store has been posted per store manager’s discretion.
- Remind the merchant that their present postings bear no legal or practical notice on criminals. Remind the merchant that they are discriminating against customers with proven clean records.
- Ask the specific reason why the merchant is posting.
- Recognize that educating merchants about concealed carry and reluctance to patronize posted businesses is not “harassment”.
- Make threats or get confrontational with a merchant. You’re only likely to get yourself into trouble with law enforcement.
- Remove any postings without express permission.
Getting Past and Over the Word “No”
It is our firm belief that posting issues should be handled by local permit holders working in their own communities to solve posting issues.
If a merchant is not receptive to a contact you may wish to engage in further contacts by having other permit holders in your area contact the merchant, the idea being if a merchant hears a steady stream of complaints from former customers they’ll unpost (“When they feel the heat, they’ll see the light”). Contact other permit holders in your area. Conduct a ‘phone blitz’ or ‘postcard blitz’ informing the merchant that you will return your business when your safety concerns are met to your satisfaction (GGO can supply you with postcards…you supply the signatures and stamps).
And finally, learn to recognize when a merchant or business simply wants no part of concealed carry/firearms issues. They will continue to be listed on our database as long as they are posted. If a posted merchant in your area is the scene of a violent crime notify GGO immediately.
Verifying Merchants and Businesses as being No Longer Posted
If you volunteer to verify that a merchant or business is no longer posted, recognize the fact that the signs may have simply been moved elsewhere on the premises. You need to do a physical walk-through. Check every entrance inside and out… THOROUGHLY. Ask the owner or management if necessary and don’t forget to thank them. If unposted, return your patronage and let them know why.