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Passing the Buck

It’s amazing that the debate is still thick in Tennessee over a provision that essentially just makes it more like most other states in terms of being able to carry a firearms into a restaurant.  But why the hysterics from businesses about people being able to carry guns into their establishments when all they have to do is post in order to stop it?  Why the hysterics about needing an “opt-in” type system rather than an “opt-out” type system.

Because the restaurants are quite happy to pass that buck to the state.  What restaurants are worried about is signaling.  By putting up a sign saying guns are prohibited, you’re sending a signal to potential customers that this is the kind of establishment that has to prohibit people from carrying firearms.  It can imply that perhaps there have been incidents in the past which could have prompted the sign.  Restaurants have a fairly powerful signaling incentive not to post a sign prohibiting firearms.  That’s why they are moaning so loudly for an opt-in system, since it puts the signaling burden on the parties that wish to allow firearms.

Ironically, I think the best course forward for the restaurants once they lose the legislative issue, would probably be to do nothing, since the more press attention this gets, the more you’re signaling to customers that restaurants are the types of places people might want to carry a gun.  You’re also signaling to those afraid of guns that restaurants are now places people can have guns.  Even though that might be true just about anywhere else you go, most people don’t understand the law, or understand the issue.

But the restaurant associations are actually pretty powerful, since most every representative will have a number of restaurateurs in his or her district, and they are interacting with their constituents on a regular basis.  The power of the restaurant associations are the reason many of these restrictions exist at all.

One Response to “Passing the Buck”

  1. Andy says:

    Or it might imply that the restaurant owner is an anti-gunner, which might affect perception of those that do not carry arms but are sympathetic to those that do and now no longer wish to patronize said establishment. In the previous state of law, it wasn’t up to the restaurant owner, so even those sympathetic to weapons carriers would not find the restaurant at fault.

    I know people who refuse to eat at Taco-Mac here in Georgia for those reasons. Which is a shame, I love the nachos.

    Anyway, if a restaurant owner publishes a No Weapons rule, I’ll respect it. It’s his property, his rules. I may also decide to eat elsewhere, but I don’t dispute his right to run his business as he likes.

    Funny thing is, in the opt-in method, I would think those that do opt-in would be able to play a serious “Everyone is welcome at JoeBob’s Barbecue and Tax Service!” marketing ploy.

    Perception is reality, as the marketing folks say.

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