Published on: January 8, 2016
Yesterday, MNB took note of a Dallas Morning News
report that a new law in Texas allowing "citizens with a permit to carry handguns openly in a holster" is creating headaches for some retailers.
The new law, according to the story, "has put retailers in a quandary, forcing them to take sides in one of the nation’s most fraught debates ... Stuck in the middle are retailers loath to risk losing business from either side. Dozens of stores and restaurants across Texas, including San Antonio-based HEB Grocery Co., one of the state’s largest food retailers, have banned openly carried guns. That’s incurred the ire of activists who have vowed to shop elsewhere. Others, such as Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., have chosen not to ban firearms carried legally, inviting the scorn of gun-control advocates promising a boycott of their own."
The Morning News
wrote that "managers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Texas have a new task to add to their list of duties: asking customers if they have a permit to carry a handgun ... Cashiers or door greeters who see someone with a gun are to alert the highest- ranking employee, who is to approach the customer and ask to see the paperwork."
I commented:I can't really comment on this story with any degree of objectivity or even understanding. I wasn't raised in a gun culture, and my comprehension of the Second Amendment is entirely academic, not emotional. When I think about the issue, I think about a school not to far away from where I live in Connecticut, where 20 kids and six staffers were killed by a guy with guns. But I also recognize that this is a complicated and emotional issue for a lot of people, and that my experience - or lack of it - should not be the determining factor in creating a national gun policy.
That said, I feel really bad for those Walmart greeters who are going to be asking to see gun permits. Again, this may be my lack of experience speaking, but it just seems like a situation ripe for disaster.
Maybe I'm wrong. And maybe I'll learn something from how this all plays out.
I knew I was opening a can of worms. But what the hell.
One MNB user responded:I just had to respond to the article on open carry of guns in stores. Not only did I not grow up in a home with guns, I have some sort of aversion to them that makes me faint around them. Three times in my life. Once when I was being taught how to handle them safely (with police officers as guides), once when I came face to face with one that had been left out by a friend’s father and once when friends were in a safe environment doing some target practice. I have no idea why. It just happens. Can’t even walk through the hunting sections of outdoor stores. So, to say I cannot approach this subject without emotion is putting it lightly.
However, I would be at least “okay” with people carrying guns around in public if I knew they had to pass one test in order to do so: Go through a physical simulation of one of the more publicized mass shootings in recent history and come out “killing” the perpetrator and without “shooting” an innocent person. I’m guessing paint guns with personalized colors could do the trick. I want someone who is carrying a gun at a store, theater, etc. to PROVE that s/he has the training, mental ability and emotional strength to act effectively and responsibly. The “perpetrators” will be wearing body armor. They may release smoke bombs. The lights might not be on. Your “friends” will be running around, terrified, in many directions. You cannot stop to help anyone who is “shot”—even little children. There will be no warnings. Now . . . GO!
I believe a police officer was shot and killed in San Bernardino during that attack. How much better could a civilian without day-to-day pressure to be ready to handle this situation be better equipped than an officer? I seem to remember a guy trying to stop a shooting in a Walmart a year or two ago. He was shot and killed by that shooter. So, what good did that do?
Honestly, there is so much about this issue that boggles my mind. All I know is that I will finally be driven to become a full-on online shopper if I have to worry that folks will be walking around with guns out in the open. I can work from home, too, I guess. Maybe I’ll be safe on the road, in my own car, going from my house to the homes of my family and friends. Heaven help me if folks are going to be coming to church with them, I’ll have to give that up, too.
So much for my rights.
MNB reader Gil Harmon wrote:Regarding the article on guns in retail stores or not, this is such an emotional issue. On one hand, getting guns can be easier than perhaps they should which means criminals can (and will) obtain guns illegally. On the other hand, legal conceal carry gun owners won’t carry unless they feel confident they can use that gun under extreme and necessary conditions. I understand the debate very well and fall on both sides for specific reasons, but one thing seems clear, no untrained retail operations associate should ever try to enforce gun right laws in their store. This falls into the category of common sense. Walmart needs to get some.
For the record, the cowardly people that do decide to commit mass murder rarely pull off such a dishonorable deed in a place that allows firearms. This is to inflict maximum harm and carnage. That is a supposed reason James Holmes drove past closer movie theaters because the Cinemark theater did (does) ban them. Also, mass murders do not advertise they are coming by strapping a side arm to their hip, because they also want the element of surprise. I personally feel safer in a building that allows guns than do not, even though I would not carry myself. If someone wants to create unimaginable havoc, they will find a way. I would suspect, given their cowardly nature, they will try in a place that will not allow others to shoot back.
MNB user Scott M. Huff wrote:I think the Walmart greeters will find that the folks enjoying open carry in TX will be mostly happy to show their CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) upon being asked. I know I would. As more and more people choose to open carry in Texas, after this “breaking-in” period, it will likely become a non-issue. Guaranteed crime will be reduced by people enjoying open carry as the criminals will be more aware that there are a lot of citizens who will are willing to fight back against crime. I know this is a tough one to swallow for folks not used to guns carried by citizens (i.e. NE), but folks that are used to (legally owned) guns are typically very responsible with them.
Once a few open-carry folks shoot a few bad guys, people will realize this makes more sense than is immediately intuitive. It will be fascinating to see what this law does to diminish crime. Has the potential to stand the political pandering around guns/second amendment on its head. Thank God for Texas!
From another reader:People not raised in the "gun culture," as you put it, tend to have a fear of guns I would imagine. I was introduced to guns as a child by the Boy
Scouts on Rifle and Shotgun overnights, which I remember fondly. The Dads got out all their guns, we went to a range and had a blast so to speak
shooting clays and targets and getting to know all different kinds of long
guns. My most memorable gun was a flint lock black powder gun I got to
shoot. For me it had a mystical connection harkening back to the days of
Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone. It was heavy, and hard to aim and the delay waiting for the powder to ignite was a surprise having shot other guns, it took forever to go off. I loved it. Shooting guns in my view is the only true way of earning respect of them. They are powerful tools that can do enormous damage. As a kid having been around them I respected them was taught gun safety and proper handling, I knew what to do if I ever found one and was safer because of it.
But if we examine that old flint lock a little further, what we find is that it was state of the art weaponry when the 2nd Amendment was written.
And lest we forget, Revolution is what birthed this nation and the
intention of the 2nd Amendment was the for the protection of the people
from tyrannical government and that the tools of Revolution not be impeded.
The 2nd Amendment was not about the protection of hunters and target
shooters, but our very liberty. So from that perspective, what guns we are
allowed to own today come nowhere near the intention of the amendment. It also comes with consequences, but it's worth it in my view.
And just as I feel safer in a bank seeing an armed guard I feel the same way seeing an armed neighbor in a grocery store. Its the criminals I fear not law abiding gun owners proud enough to show all that they are willing to defend you should the need arise. I think of it as nothing more than an extended police force and crime deterrent. Guns are tools for protection, target shooting, hunting and even Revolution. I think that context gets lost in the modern debate over gun laws.
I don't openly or concealed carry but support those who do, and thank them for keeping watch just as I thank all police officers for their service.
And another:We live in Texas and are advocates for the 2nd Amendment. We also believe that the tragedy near you may have been prevented or at least diminished if there was someone in the building who had a weapon. However, that being said, gun owners do have a responsibility to handle their guns appropriately. Meaning that there may not be a need to shop with your gun, especially if the store is already looking out for your safety. Some people are just afraid at the sight of a weapon. We respect and appreciate their fear. Meanwhile, Texas may have open carry laws in place...but that doesn't mean everyone is walking around with a gun on their hip... Seeing that is still a rare occurrence, so stores complaining of losing business due to this law is extremely exaggerated at best and more of a media ploy! HEB is as crowded as ever on the weekend.
MNB user Mike Springer wrote:I must admit that I thought you might take more of an "anti-gun" stance on this one but was pleasantly surprised to see your "wait and see" response. The truth is that this is not new to our country as Texas is only one of many (actually most) that already allows some form of "open carry" (not saying I agree or disagree with the current laws).
As someone who works for a Texas retailer, it does put all of us in a no-win situation with our guests. Some folks are adamant one way or the other, but I think the majority of us just want a safe environment in which to shop and common sense to prevail!
Finally, MNB reader Gary Maxworthy wrote:Your take on this seems so unlike your take on just about every other issue you comment on.
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that, but I'm guessing that you - like Mike Springer - expected a more virulent and reflexive anti-gun response.
I do hate to disappoint ... so let me be a little clearer about my feelings and opinions.
First of all, I'm amazed how many states have open-carry laws. Even my state, Connecticut, does ... and I have no recollection of ever seeing any civilian walking around with a gun on his or her hip. (If I had, I would have called the cops.) So maybe this new Texas law actually is much ado about nothing. When I say wait-and-see, that's really what I'm referring to.
I also think that employees at stores who are told to check on people carrying weapons to make sure they are licensed are being put in a horrible position. I figure this can go three ways. They are licensed and happy to show their credentials. They are licensed and resentful of being asked. Or they are not licensed and resentful ... and with this bunch, the potential for things going badly has to be a little higher than if the law did not exist and/or nobody asked. Again, let's wait-and-see ... though if things go badly, those words will ring hollow.
If I seem less reflexively anti-gun than you expect, it is because I feel strongly that much of the debate in this country becomes uncivil because we refuse to even acknowledge that people with differing opinions from us might have a point, or at least a rationale for their opinions. Sometimes these differences are cultural, sometimes they are geographic, and sometimes they are demographic. It seems to me to be completely unreasonable and entirely unsophisticated to pretend these differences don't exist.
But differences do exist. Which is why I also believe that the gun laws in places like Chicago and New York and Los Angeles ought to be different - and way tougher - than they are in more rural areas. I think a reasonable national discussion could lead us in that direction, but a reasonable national discussion on this issue seems unlikely ... just as we're unlikely to come to any sort of reasonable agreement about the Second Amendment, about which there are legitimate differences of opinion.
I also think it is fair to suggest that political polarization has forced people on either side of these issues into even more diametrically opposition ... that it wasn't that long ago when there seemed to be more agreement among conservatives and liberals about what "reasonable" gun laws ought to look like. Also, in fairness, it seems to me that there probably are a lot of gun laws that probably aren't being enforced to the extent they should be.
For the record, I've always felt that a reasonable change to federal law would be that if you are in possession of a gun during the commission of any crime, you get a 25 year mandatory sentence. If you fire the gun, it goes to 50 years. If the bullet wounds someone, it goes to 75 years. Kill someone, and you're in for life. No parole, no exceptions. (I'd include in this law the stipulation that it includes any civilian who shoots someone who he or she thinks is a bad guy, but isn't.) I'm flexible on the years, but not the draconian nature of how these sentences would be applied.
I have to be be honest here. I am a lot less persuaded than some people that what we really need is lots of armed people who can shoot bad guys when the situation seems appropriate. That seems like a way-too-simplistic solution to me ... and I've met too many people in my life who think they have the knowledge, insight, temperament and ability to make such life-and-death decisions, and are, to my mind, utterly delusional. Not bad people, just not equipped to reach these conclusions in tough and dangerous circumstances. They think they're a Clint Eastwood character ... and they forget that Clint Eastwood was only Clint Eastwood
in the movies.
This all said, I have to recognize that we need to have a legitimate and reasoned political and cultural debate in this country about this issue ... it'd just be nice if everybody would be willing to give up a little in order to reach some agreement.
But here's what really bothers me. At my wife's public elementary school, the teachers and kids have to walk by an armed guard when they go in and out of the building each day. That's a shame, and ultimately, it symbolizes a national failure, no matter what you think the solution should be.
MNB took note of a story the other day about how Wegmans was removing all cosmetics and HBC products from its stores - including Johnson & Johnson’s RoC, Aveeno and Clean & Clear brands, P&G’s Olay and Crest toothpaste, and L’Oréal’s Garnier - that contain polyethylene microbead plastics, widely considered to be an environmental menace.
MNB user Christine Neary responded:Definitely delighted to hear that Wegmans is moving in the right direction over plastic particle pollution, and is being so public about it.
I was chagrined by predictions that canned wine will be the next big thing, leading MNB reader John J. Toner V to write:I for one LOVE canned wine, and I can’t use the word love too much. If you are a yachtsman, or live in a condo, or do anything where you need to manage trash – cans are so much better the bottles – they take up much less space, and are lighter when disposing. It’s like the box of wine, but you can manage/ration your intake better. And when the waves are a rolling it is hard to pour a cup without making a mess out of a bottle or a box…
Michael Sansolo's column the other day referred to the now-antiquated notion of paper calendars, which prompted MNB reader Steve Sullivan to write:Michael, Your comment made me feel old (-er).
You said, " – if anyone uses a calendar with pages anymore –" . Yeah, I check the date on my iPhone, and I have my work calendar on our Outlook at work, but I have also received my traditional "Get Fuzzy" desk calendar from my son, my WWF Penguin wall calendar from my daughter, a recipe calendar from Food Lion, a pocket wall calendar shared with the wife and, this one I try to figure out why every year, a wall calendar from our local Duke Energy nuclear power plant. So, yes, there are a lot of calendars with pages out there.
We also continue to get email about the Chipotle mess.
One MNB user wrote:My family and I have been big fans of Chipotle over time. For us, it has not been due to the sourcing, the “food with integrity” proposition or any of that. We simply liked the style of the food; it was flexible, tasty and seemed fresh. The cost was good and we could all find something we liked. A couple of weeks ago, however, two of my daughters and I were looking for lunch and came across a Chipotle. I thought about it, and decided we needed to keep driving to find another place. Too risky.
Here’s the worst part - which represents the most dangerous prospect to a company like Chipotle: I’m not going to be actively reading the news or listening for the company’s proclamation that “all is well” again. We’re moving on, and we’re not nearly loyal enough to them to be waiting breathlessly for Chipotle to be back on their feet. It might be years before we wind up in one again, if they survive that long...
Michael Blackburn wrote:I’ve watched with interest the unfolding of the Chipotle story. The food safety issues should continue to be a primary focus for all players throughout the food supply chain. However, specific to this story, I’ve read with interest first the comments from readers of how the”natural food is better” proponents have egg on their face, and then the stories themselves taking the stance that somehow reducing your exposure to processed, artificial and antibiotic laden foods is foolhardy.
The Bloomberg story states there are about 48 million cases of food illness each year, and Chipotle has found about 500 cases since July related to its stores. This number does not seem out of proportion given they operate nearly 2,000 sites out of nearly 620,000 restaurants throughout the country. Still, the jury is out as to the culpability of Chipotle’s food handling practices in this mess.
In my mind, the real question is why are we getting so many bacterial food illnesses in this country? Let’s trace it back to the farms and ultimate source. Could it be somehow related to the fact that 80% of all antibiotics distributed in this country are used by the agriculture industry (primarily to stimulate growth)? Could this be the reason we are getting more aggressive strains of E. Coli and other bacteria, resistant to even our toughest antibiotics? Do a Google search, its only a matter of decades at best, before we find ourselves back in the dark ages as our current antibiotics become ineffective against these newer strains of bacteria.
Also got an email about this from Chelsea Ware, who has contributed a few "Millennial Mind" columns to MNB in recent months:I read your piece on Chipotle this morning and the anticipation of their fate is killing me. As a broke college student, I used to always eat at Chipotle with my friends because they are one of the only places on campus that is hip, fresh, and affordable. At noon on a weekday, the PSU Chipotle would have a line that wrapped around the restaurant.
But now when I pass by them the place is empty. It is depressing to look at actually. Students used to always be eating Chipotle's famous oversized burritos in class but now people just sit in their seats empty handed and stare at the professor like zombies with low blood sugar.
This whole thing has made me wonder why other chains haven't used this scandal to steal Chipotle's thunder. As mentioned above, much of Chipotle's success is due to the fact that they play upbeat music, give patrons an aesthetically pleasing place to sit, and offer affordable food that is served quickly. These attributes are affordable and easy to implement. Why are so few restaurants doing this?
For the sake of my grumbling stomach, I really hope that Chipotle recovers. But if they don't, then who is going to step in and take their place?
I expressed a little frustration with smart home technology like the Nest, and this apparently resonated with a few readers. Nick Arlt wrote:You mentioned you have a Nest and couldn’t get it working. I used to have a Nest and didn’t have issues, but it’s been a number of years. About 8 months ago I installed an Ecobee 3 thermostat. It was simple to install (from a guy who isn’t handy at all) and is Home Kit Enabled, so it will work with Apple Products. A month ago I installed 3 smoke/carbon monoxide detectors that were all Home Kit Enabled and I also have a WeMo Outlet from Belkin, not Home Kit enabled, but “smart.”
I’ve been very happy with the Home Kit smart products and feel comfortable knowing that they have to meet Apple’s strict security standards. That was part of the reason I went away from the Nest. The ability to monitor and control all the devices from my iPhone is great. I feel more secure knowing that if there is an issue at my house I’ll be alerted no matter where I am. I would recommend all of the above products.
MNB reader Howard Tobin wrote:I had an issue installing my Nest and called their Toll Free Number and received excellent/helpful Customer Service. Because of the quality of the product and their Customer Service I now have purchased Nest Smoke Detectors.
Nest is like Apple, the cost is higher but the superior product and their Customer Service still make this a good value.
We had a bit of a dust-up the other day when MNB reader Tom Kroupa said that Whole Foods' John Mackey is a libertarian and reflexively anti-government. Which led MNB reader Tom Herman to respond that "libertarians are not anti-government any more than liberals are anti-capitalism." And now, Tom Kroupa responds back:That is a distinction without a difference: Libertarians will always be perceived as anti-government. John Mackey wants the equivalent of sending the referees home so that the players and coaches can make the calls.
Is being perceived as anti-government the same as actually being
anti-government? I'm not sure.
But here's what I would suggest ... that in some ways you're both right. Libertarians may not be anti-government in an absolutist sense, but they do tend to be anti any part of government that they see as infringing on their personal freedoms. That can be a really, really big pice of the governmental pie...
On another issue, how "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes' next project is a serialized digital novel app, MNB reader Linda Reiring – Reta has a thought:Responding to your article on the upcoming serialized novel/app "Belgravia," I have to say that this type of novel delivery is by far the most annoying to any avid reader. I have been using Kindle as my primary app for reading for many years, starting with the actual Kindle device when it was first launched. There’s been a trend the last few years for authors to release novels in phases, thus making more money through the process. For the most part they call it Book 1, Book 2, Book 3….with a “novella” in between. What’s most annoying is some of these “books” are as little as 100 pages. In the end, a five book series is really one long novel and an avid reader likes to read the novel, not in starts and stops but beginning to end. Getting a chapter a week on one level is good because at least you don’t have to search for it and you know it’s coming. On the other hand, I’m not going to curl up to a good chapter; that activity is reserved for books.
The other day, in a piece about how Earth Fare is closing an Ohio store that wilted under severe competition, I suggested that Dorothy Lane Market's approach to competition probably made Earth Fare's store untenable. This prompted MNB reader Ellisa Stone to write:I have lived here for almost 15 years after relocating to Ohio for General Mills right out college.
Dorothy Lane is truly a great store and a fierce competitor with a highly loyal high income base; the market is highly saturated with grocery options and is also home to 2 of Kroger's largest stores.
As a base, we already had Dorothy Lane, Trader Joes, the masses like Walmart & Target, etc., value players such as Aldi & Dollar General, and clubs such as Sams.
Within the last year, Kroger added their second major store, Fresh Thyme, Earthfare, and Whole Foods entered the market AND Costco built their first Dayton area club.
Because Dayton is such a small concentrated market, I can access any of these stores with 5-15 minutes.
While Earthfare was probably the weakest platform in the market in a lackluster location, I would not be surprised to see others struggle over the next year.
And MNB reader Krag Swartz wrote:Great observation about Dorothy Lane Market. Norman Mayne and his son Calvin and his entire team have thrived in all kinds of competition over the years. The food and service and the shopping experience are huge differentiators for them.
Regarding the really important stuff, MNB reader Tom Tomaselli wrote:Totally agree with you on Ken Griffey Jr going in with a Mariners hat as long as it’s backwards! Even as a die-hard Yankees fan, it’s been a lot of fun to watch the career of a great ambassador to the game like Ken Griffey Jr who has one of the sweetest swings I have ever seen. Not sure why some sports analysts are saying that the backwards hat was disrespectful or showed a lack of effort on his part and saying that he could have played harder, I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think it was just part of his playful character and the big smile he wore prominently as an important face of baseball.