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Can a Retailer Confiscate Your Gun?

I’ve gone to the L.L. Bean store in Allentown a few times, but I don’t make a regular habit of looking up a mall’s policies before going. If they want to keep people from carrying, they can conspicuously post. Some folks on the PAFOA forum dug up the policy on the Promenade Shops of Saucon Valley, where the L.L. Bean is located, and discovered  policy number 13:

“Any weapon such as guns, knives, swords, laser pointers, and any other items that can harm the customer will be confiscated and given to proper authorities.”

OK, so I can legally carry a sword in Pennsylvania, or a knife (that isn’t a switchblade), a laser pointer, and my LTC allows me to carry a firearm. So the response from the authorities is going to properly be that these items are legal to carry in Pennsylvania. In this case, can the retailer take it? I’m fairly certain the answer is no. They can ask you to leave. They can use force to make you leave if you refuse, or call the cops and let them use force on your behalf. But taking something off you is theft, plain and simple. This is s ridiculously unenforceable policy, and I’m surprised their corporate lawyers gave the nod to this. At first I wondered if this was drafted by a New York based, where pretty much anything that’s dangerous or fun is illegal, and people have a tendency to think the rest of the country is just like New York, but no, the company is based in Tennessee. WTF?

And what’s with calling a strip mall a “Lifestyle Center.” Clearly these people need a hearty dose of get the f*** over yourselves.

24 Responses to “Can a Retailer Confiscate Your Gun?”

  1. Robb Allen says:

    I think it’s perfectly legitimate.

    I have a personal policy that “If the store has merchandise that is over-priced and may cause damage to personal budgets, that item shall be taken from the store without compensation and handed to random passerbys”

    I have a feeling they wouldn’t like my policy that much even though it’s the same as theirs.

  2. Unistat says:

    Well, clearly they employ the finest tactical mall security team.

    Perhaps this is the home of a certain “…Sergeant of a three-man Rapid Tactical Force at one of America’s largest indoor retail shopping areas.”

    If one of those guys wanted to take your gun, you mights as well hand it over, because there is literally nothing you could do to stop them.

    • Robert says:

      Ok Unistat, not funny!

      You just made me snort my soda out of my nose when you reference that!

      Now I am going to have to go search for that so I can read it again.

  3. I strongly suspect they’ve never had any intention of enforcing this policy against adults. It reads like a “you’re a punk kid and we’ll do what we want and try to get somebody to take your complaint seriously” kind of policy, especially given the reference to laser pointers.

  4. Ed says:

    They have at some point changed the wording of policy #13:

    “No weapons or other items which may be used to harm any person may be brought into the Center – including without limitation, guns, knives, swords, laser pointers and the like. Law enforcement authorities will be contacted if a violation is brought to the attention of Center management.”

    I say give a call to the legal deprtment at their corporate office, the corporate number is (901) 761-7604.

    When I called the legal department they aske me to call the on-site manager at the shopping center, his name is Dean Shauger and he can be reached at (610) 791-9707.

    Anyone up for an open carry dinner at one of the restaurants in the shopping center?

    • Bitter says:

      At the risk of a giant target being put on my back for suggesting that open carry isn’t the solution for everything, I do have to disagree with your proposal. It has nothing to do with the issue of open carry though.

      The revised wording makes pretty clear that every single item on that list is banned from the property. They state pretty clearly that their first response will be to call the cops to, presumably, have you escorted from the property for violating their rules on mere possession. There’s nothing about open carry to challenge in the situation. They don’t want gun owners to shop at any of their stores, and they make pretty clear that if you do so with your lawfully carried firearm, they will ask you to leave just for being a gun owner. They get to ask you to leave. They can ask you to leave because some clerk decided your hair color is too funny for their “lifestyle center.”

      Given that L.L. Bean is a major tenant that does want to keep hunters and gun owners on their customer list, I would suggest letting the manager at that location know that the landlords have announced that anyone who is lawfully carrying either a firearm or even a pocket knife has been banned from their store by their management company. A complaint from the manager of a major store onsite that their policy is too broad and doesn’t actually restrict misuse, simply mere possession, is more likely to get the kind of attention needed to fix the policy.

      • Greg says:

        I wonder how many of the retailers there may sell items that would cause a shopper to violate the posted policy immediately upon purchase? We know there’s an L.L.Bean there, I wonder if there’s a kitchen store? I’d bet there’s at least one item in every single establishment that could “harm” someone else if one were determined to do so.

        • SDN says:

          Not to mention I didn’t see a law-enforcement exception….

          This is a typical BS policy. Similar to noise ordinances and disturbing the peace laws, it’s meant to give them an excuse to refuse service / arrest people.

    • Trav says:

      Agreed, Bitter. I can’t figure out why some folks are so intent on giving their money to anti-gun folks that obviously don’t want it.

  5. Ian Argent says:

    For more fun, assume I get my FL permit, and carry into one of these establishments not in NJ. Them taking my firearm would be a illegal intestate transfer of firearms, no? For that matter, doesn’t PA require the intervention of an FFL to transfer a handgun?

    • HSR47 says:

      “For that matter, doesn’t PA require the intervention of an FFL to transfer a handgun?”

      Generally, yes. There are exceptions however; Specifically, transfers between parents and children, and between husbands and wives are exempted, as per Federal law.

      Also, that only covers transfers of *ownership*, and not mere transfers of *possession*, which there are ,a number of exceptions for in the law.

  6. John A says:

    “…and any other items that can harm the customer”

    Leave shoes, belts, etc. in the car? Don’t buy paring knives, golf clubs, sewing needles…

  7. Bitter’s suggestion strikes me as extremely prudent.

    • CaptAhab says:

      I agree – Bitter made an excellent suggestion.
      Perhaps those of us who shop in this area might make it a point to also patronize the local Chick-Fil-A as often as possible. I know I do.

  8. My thoughts are…

    a) They merely have the right to ask me to leave. It’s their property.

    b) Until I refuse to leave, in which case I am tresspassing and engaged in criminal activity. In which case, things get a bit stickier. Is security allowed to detain someone for shop lifting?

    Still, I think the smart thing would be to simply ask me to leave. And if I refuse, involve the authorities. Whom I am pretty sure would take away my weapons….knowing most police officers, probably in a typical forceful way even if handed over willingly.

  9. dustydog says:

    Seems like a ripe civil lawsuit. If they forbade customers from out-of-state from coming into the store with wheelchairs, contact lenses, pacemakers, epinephrine pin, it wouldn’t stand.

    Stores can reasonably ban offensive shirts & hats, or gang symbols. Depending on the judge, they can or can’t ban gay hand holding. Carrying a gun should be viewed the same way as medical devices, not as expressions of first amendment liberties.

    The right to carry a weapon is predicated on the medical inability to protect myself from murder and grievous bodily harm without the tool. As noted in the bill of rights, the right is necessary for security.

  10. JKB says:

    Sounds like their insurance company gave them some advice. A written policy of taking private property, one presumes by force if necessary, would be real liability and cause those premiums to skyrocket. Most retailers have a policy of employees not stopping shoplifters and such as any physical altercation puts them on the hook for any injuries to the thief or the employee. Not having a policy and training against such involvement means the store is on the hook.

  11. Old NFO says:

    Nope, that would NOT end well if they tried to take my gun… Period…

  12. Kristophr says:

    If you click on the link to rule 13 in the forum, the text has been changed.

    They will now call the police and tattle on you, instead of trying to take your property.

    It looks like the mall’s lawyer may have slapped some idiot around a bit there.

  13. Jerry says:

    Is it a ‘tactical’ mall?

  14. Alien says:

    I think Bitter has the solution. While I don’t live in PA, and will probably never have occasion to visit that particular store, as a long time customer of L.L. Bean, and owner of quite a few of their products, I’ll email them today and gently ask why they support the ant-gun policies of that particular mall, and inquire if I should be spending my money elsewhere. I suspect polite emails of similar tone to operating headquarters of other national companies with a presence in that mall might increase the level of awareness at some organizations. At the very least responses might put some companies on record, which would be useful in itself for future spending plans.

    On a parallel note, while his word choice is a bit harsh, I think this may be a near-perfect example of what Joe Huffman refers to as being treated as “gun niggers.” I wonder if that mall could survive a similar notice banning a class of individuals exercising their enumerated constitutional rights under another amendment (the 14th) or conduct under color of federal statute (The Civil Rights Act of 1964).

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