October, 2012

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Reasor’s Listens To Reason

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Many of you may have heard or read that Reasor’s Stores were preparing signage to prohibit legally carried firearms on their premises. The Tulsa World talked to their COO Steve Lehto about it in an article last week. Needless to say lots of people wrote letters and made phone calls to Reasor’s about this. I know I wrote a lengthy letter to them trying to get them to see the light and not give in to panic. A copy of my letter is below. Another shooting instructor, Stephen Cue, also wrote them. Stephen is an NRA Training Counselor and SDA Instructor among other things.

The bottom line is that Reasor’s listened. I got a telephone call this morning from Steve Lehto at Reasor’s telling me that they had reconsidered their position after receiving so many calls and letters and would not prohibit legal firearms carry on their premises. He said they especially appreciated the education that some of us gave them on what is required to obtain a Self Defense Act permit in Oklahoma. Stephen Cue got a call also, and I assume several others throughout the state did.

It’s nice to see that reason and knowledge can overcome irrational fear and knee-jerk reactions, at least once in a while. I’m sure it also helps that the grocery business is very competitive and making Reasor’s a “no one will shoot back zone” might well cost them more customers than the few that would be scared by the thought of someone in the store carrying a real gun.

Thanks and congratulations to the shooting community in Oklahoma.

_________________________________

19 Oct. 2012

Reasor’s Home Office
200 West Choctaw
Tahlequah, OK 74464

 

Good day,

I read in today’s Tulsa World that Reasor’s is preparing signage to indicate that firearms will not be allowed “on site.”

The Reasor’s supermarket chain is readying new signage for its area stores that make it clear that weapons won’t be allowed on site, said Steve Lehto, the company’s chief operating officer.

“We feel like it’s the best thing for our customers,” he said. “We try to make the shopping experience easy and enjoyable for everyone.”
— Tulsa World, Oct. 19, 2012

I am writing today to encourage your firm to reconsider this position. Persons possessing a firearms permit under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act (SDA) have to pass a rigorous federal and state background check, similar to that required by CLEET for armed security guards. Permit holders must also successfully pass a training course, which is largely about when and if one may use a firearm legally and on the restrictions on carry locations and potential legal issues surrounding both. They must also demonstrate in the training course that they can safely handle and shoot a firearm. In short, those possessing a SDA permit are trained, and thoroughly checked out and should be the ideal customer to have in your place of business.

Most of our family’s grocery purchases are made in the Tulsa store at 71st St. and Sheridan Rd. While I believe this is a hardly a rough neighborhood, I have been accosted several times in the parking lot by people trying to beg money for a variety of fictional causes. Some have been pretty aggressive at this. I have reported these to the store manager or security guard and they respond appropriately. However, the confrontation had already happened, so the presence of security in the store or company policy against panhandling on the premises did nothing to prevent this encounter.

When concealed carry was initially approved here, there was a lot of hand-wringing and fear mongering, especially by the Tulsa World, envisioning Dodge City shootouts and the like. Several large merchants initially forbad firearms on their premises. Several shooting enthusiast websites and forums started posting lists of merchants where concealed carry was not allowed. We came to call these places “No one will shoot back zones,” because only law-abiding people will obey the signs and criminals do prefer unarmed victims.

However, as time went by and none of the feared events came to pass, more than a few businesses, large and small, found that they were losing market share to competitors by telling SDA permit holders that their patronage was not desired.

I realize that open-carry will cause a little more anxiety than concealed carry, but  I think you will find that very few people actually choose to carry openly. Most permit holders are responsible members of their community and will not wish to alarm those around them. More importantly, they will not want to alert criminals who to shoot first. This is one of the key disadvantages a uniformed police officer has over a plain-clothes officer.

I am active in the shooting sports as a competitor in several disciplines, an instructor of both adults and Scouts, and as a past officer and current board member of a large shooting club in the area. I’ve talked to a lot of other shooters about the open-carry issue, and the vast majority have no intention of carrying openly for the reasons outlined above.

The only advantage to having open carry become legal is that if one’s legally carried firearm becomes visible for a moment while bending down to pick up something, or in a very windy parking lot, it will no longer legally amount to “brandishing a firearm.” Under the law in effect now, a permit holder’s firearms must be kept concealed at all times. If the firearm is visible to others it is considered brandishing, which is a punishable offense under Oklahoma Statutes.

I would really prefer to shop at Reasor’s though there are two Food Pyramid stores and both a Wal-Mart Super Center and Neighborhood Market approximately the same distance away. However, if Reasor’s feels it is more important to cater to the irrational fears of the few, I will be forced to shop elsewhere, and I am the primary grocery purchaser in our household. Needless to say, I will also encourage the 600+ members of my shooting club and all those I know through competition to do likewise.

I really think you should wait and see on this, rather than encourage your existing customer base to go elsewhere. Once they have gotten used to shopping somewhere else, it will be lot harder to get them back.

Banning firearms on site is something we would expect from Whole Foods or similar distantly owned and managed firms, not from an Oklahoma grocery chain. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) has placed trust in SDA permit holders by granting them the permit.  Reasor’s should be equally willing to trust these fellow Oklahomans and should welcome their patronage.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss this issue. I’ll be glad to provide whatever additional information I can.

Ron Denton

NRA Certified Instructor – Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun, Reloading
NRA Range Safety Officer
IDPA Safety Officer