An Open Letter to Bi-Lo Grocery Chain on Firearms Policy and Notification
March 29, 2012 in politics
The following e-mail was sent with attached images on Thursday March 29, 2012 at 5PM to the CEO, Senior VP of Marketing, Senior VP of Store Operations, VP of Risk Management, VP of HR and Diversity, Director of Facilities, and the Marketing Manager. As some mail systems block attachments links to the images hosted here were also included at the end of the e-mail. I have not included these employees names or e-mail addresses out of respect for their privacy but that information is available elsewhere online. I did not use their contact form as it limits formatting, has restrictive character limits, and does not allow for attachments. If you have any questions I can be contacted here and Bi-Lo can be contacted here. Full Resolution (4320×3240) versions of the images are available upon request.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I have been a longtime customer of Bi-Lo and have been generally happy with the experience. I appreciate the good selection, helpful staff, and competitive prices. I am very thankful for all of these reasons. I am, however, disappointed by your firearms policy and how it is promoted. I have found it fails to meet the legal requirements in at least two states and targets the wrong people.
I am a customer that lives in South Carolina and works in North Carolina. I am fortunate enough to pass one Bi-Lo location in NC on my way to and from work and have another near enough my home for holiday and weekend visits. I frequently visit both locations. I am also an Open Carry advocate, firearms instructor, and US Air Force veteran. When in NC, I make it a habit to Open Carry my firearm to normalize the action of people exercising their Second Amendment right. On the afternoon of March 19, these two habits clashed.
I went shopping with my wife at store #530 at 12810 S Tryon Road Charlotte, NC, a store I had openly carried at several times before without incident. However, per my normal practice when entering a private business while armed, I looked for the standard signs forbidding open or concealed carry, most traditionally the silhouette of a handgun in black with a red circle slash “No” sign, similar to the “No Smoking” sign. Seeing no sign or large text, we entered the store. Near the completion of our excursion, we were visited by a female store manager informing us that I needed to leave the store as weapons were forbidden. She was very polite and understanding. I apologized and explained that I had not seen any sign saying it was forbidden; when informed there was a sign, I left my wife in the store with our cart.
After returning to my wife’s car to unload, disassemble, and lock up most of my pistol (I keep part of it on me in case the vehicle is broken into so criminals will not have a working, loaded gun), I returned to the store and my waiting wife. On my way in, I tried to find the sign saying firearms/guns/pistols/open-carry/weapons were forbidden; I finally found it in small text at the bottom of the store hours sign, just after “Shirt and Shoes Required.” Now disarmed, we paid and left.
Being concerned that other people may also miss that sign, I decided to contact you and request a change in policy or signage. Obviously, as a Second Amendment practitioner, Concealed Carry advocate, and Open Carry activist, I would prefer you change your policy instead of asking law-abiding citizens to disarm themselves, knowing that violent criminals, by definition, do not respect the law or store policy. Barring a change in policy, I request a change in signage to present a clear message, perhaps the slashed circle with a message that guns and their owners are not welcome at your store. Improved signage would not only help prevent confusion, but would bring you in compliance with state law.
Each state defines proper signage for forbidding Concealed or Open Carry differently; unfortunately, Bi-Lo signage does not change across state lines. As per NC § 14‑415.11, any establishment forbidding concealed or open carry must inform the public by posting “a conspicuous notice or statement” with that message, or it lacks legal standing. The attached images, taken Thursday March 23, 2012, show that although posted, the signage is not “conspicuous”. While forbidding Open Carry, South Carolina’s law makes clear its signage requirements. According to South Carolina Code of Law, Section 23-31-235, the sign must meet the following requirements:
- Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any requirement of or allowance for the posting of signs prohibiting the carrying of a concealable weapon upon any premises shall only be satisfied by a sign expressing the prohibition in both written language interdict and universal sign language.
- All signs must be posted at each entrance into a building where a concealable weapon permit holder is prohibited from carrying a concealable weapon and must be: www.handgunlaw.us 4
- clearly visible from outside the building;
- eight inches wide by twelve inches tall in size;
- contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black one-inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;
- contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal;
- a diameter of a circle; and
- placed not less than forty inches and not more than sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.
As you can see in the attached pictures, taken at store #718, located at 158 Highway 274 in Lake Wylie, SC, which uses the same signage at NC locations, Bi-Lo’s signs fail to meet the clearly defined South Carolina requirements.
As previously stated, your staff and the manager on duty were very polite when informing me of the store’s policy, even expressing that more people should carry more places, more often, and that the policy was only being enforced due to complaints of the discomfort of another customer. This is not a complaint against your staff; instead, I am voicing concern regarding your policy and signage. I encourage whoever reads this to consider being more welcoming of peaceable, armed customers or, at the very least, provide obvious signs letting them know to take their arms and money elsewhere. This would avoid confusion that could be embarrassing, at best, as happened to me or tragic, at worst, like the shooting of West Point graduate and Army veteran, Erik Scott, outside of a Las Vegas Costco.
Thank you for your time,
Mr. Xaq Fixx
If you are unable to open the attachments, here are direct links to the images:
To my normal readers: I know this has nothing to do with beer or homebrewing, but it is a matter of the law and liberty, also, this is the only place I blog regularly.
Update #1: March 30, 2012 – 8:30PM EST No Response from Bi-Lo yet. Local print and broadcast media, along with several of the top firearms and gun rights blogs, have been contacted.