By Sam Hoober
Some recent news items make for a good opportunity to discuss non-permissive environments, sometimes abbreviated as NPE. These are places where you can’t carry a gun.
Now, some people are going to argue about the right and wrong of legally designated areas where weapons are prohibited or employer policies. That’s all well and good, but the point isn’t to talk about what you or I or anyone else is in favor of; this is about how to get along in the real world. You can argue about the principle of the thing in the comments section.
Bear in mind also that we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. Nor would we ever suggest that a person should violate the law, because you shouldn’t. This is to have a discussion amongst adults about a complex topic.
With that all said, NPE comes in two flavors:
Non-permissive with consequences, and non-permissive with none.
If you are discovered carrying a gun in the former, you will pay for it. It may be the loss of a job, it may result in prison time. In other words, you are not permitted to have a gun in these environments and you will lose something you care about if you do and are found out.
In the latter, you might be asked to leave Starbucks. White chocolate peppermint mochas aren’t good for you anyway. Since the consequences are minimal (if there are any) there’s really not much to talk about there.
So, let’s talk about carrying in an NPE that has consequences.
Ultimately, one must arrive at one of two conclusions.
First is to have a storage device of some kind in your car and abrogate any potential issues.
You lock the gun in the car safe or what have you, and you can drop the kids off at school, go inside for a parent-teacher conference, or go into work or whatever it is and you don’t have anything to worry about because the gun isn’t on you.
The idea, of course, is that prison or unemployment if discovered is more of a threat and more likely to happen than whatever threat scenario you can name is to happen. If you have to keep a roof over your family’s heads and food on the table, not being able to take your gun to work just isn’t as important.
The Mel Gibson line “I’m a parent; I haven’t got the luxury of principles” comes to mind.
Obviously, this is the safer thing to do and an effective compromise between leaving your gun at home and defying company policy and/or state, local, and/or federal law.
Some people will also selectively leave their gun at home. Ultimately the relative risk of whether you’ll need it or not is to some degree a statistical probability and in some places, the statistical probability is near as makes no difference zero. If you’re literally just going to be going from your house to the car to the office and straight back, it really might be more trouble than it’s worth to take the gun out of the safe.
If leaving the gun at home or in the car is not an option or not an option that you’re willing to entertain, the solution for an NPE is to perfect your concealment. And that means you have to do more than just cover your gun.
If you are going to (possibly illegally) carry your gun in defiance of company policy and the law…
…and we strongly recommend that you don’t…
…then your gun has to be undetectable. Where you get yourself in trouble is by believing that just covering the gun with your shirt is going to be enough. And it really might not be.
Here are some examples.
One Dylan Gaunder of Johnstown, Ohio, is alleged to have carried his gun to a high school wrestling tournament in Columbus, which is prohibited by law as most states forbid carrying weapons in schools or school athletic events held off-campus. Gaunder is alleged to be the man in the photograph who jumped up, and revealed the pistol he was carrying in the appendix position.
The hitch with carrying on the waistband is that the gun will be revealed if you reach above your head. Your shirt lifts and presto! Your gun and holster are visible for all to see.
A woman in Florida was recently arrested when a school teacher noticed her poorly concealed pistol, imprinting through her shirt. Amber Straub of Naples, Fla., has been arrested and charged with possession of a weapon on school property after her gun was noticed as she dropped her child off at elementary school.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office disclosed through the press and on social media that while they don’t believe Straub had any malicious intent, carrying on school property and carrying without a valid concealed carry permit (which she does not have) are still crimes regardless.
So obviously, if you’re going to defy the law, just covering the gun or your typical amount of effort to conceal it may not be enough. Getting fired might be the least of your worries.
There are a number of solutions for deeper concealment while still maintaining reasonably fast access, which have been discussed here and elsewhere in detail. The takeaway here is this:
First, if you’re willing to risk becoming homeless or going to prison over policies or laws about where you can or can’t carry a gun, you need to make it as undetectable as possible.
Second, it’s probably better to figure out a different solution in lieu of taking those risks.
So what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Sam Hoober is a hunter and shooter based in the Inland Northwest.