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Posting a "No Firearms" Sign at the Entrance to a Medical Office…

Question:  I represent a doctors office.  We have a patient that has a permit and carries a gun into our office. We are not really comfortable with that and would like to put up a sign requesting patients to not carry in our office. Is that OK?  We do not want to violate anyone’s rights?

Answer: Under Arizona law, any establishment may post a sign that prohibits a person from carrying a firearm into their private property or place of business.  All you would need to do is put up an appropriate sign at the entrance stating that no weapons are allowed.  By law, anyone in possession of a firearm would be required to not enter your premises with a firearm.  They would probably have to leave it in their vehicle.

You stated that you were concerned about violating someone’s rights by doing this.  That is a somewhat sensitive issue.  Here’s why…

Under the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, each citizen has the fundamental right to carry a firearm for the purpose of either self-defense of one’s self or one’s family.  When a business puts up a sign such as you suggest, you are asking your patients to relinquish that right during their visit to your office.  This would also prevent them from maintaining control of their firearm which could be stolen while locked inside their vehicle.

There are just a couple of things to consider before you decide to post a sign of this type.

First, do you believe that a criminal intent on committing a crime would be deterred from bringing a firearm into your office by a sign?  I would submit that they would not.  Only law abiding citizens will obey any sign of this type.  It would create an environment where only a criminal would be armed.

Second, I realize that you probably feel that there is a low likelihood of any problem that would require a firearm to solve.  I would also suggest that there is also a very low chance of a fire in your building, but you still have sprinklers, fire extinguishers and fire alarms in your building.  Generally, people that carry firearms for personal defense hope they never need one but they carry it ‘just in case’, because if they need it, it may be several minutes before police might arrive to assist.  You can look at the countless examples where a massacre could have been stopped if someone had only had a gun (VA Tech, Columbine, San Diego McDonalds shooting, etc.)

Third, the person legally carrying their firearm into your office has received training in safe gun handling, the laws in Arizona relating to handguns and the use of force and has undergone a significant criminal background check in order to get their AZ CCW permit.  Unless the person is doing something unsafe with their firearm, there should be no risk to anyone and the person carrying the firearm should be no threat to anyone.  They are, in fact, a “certified good guy”.

I guess the last question I’d have you consider is why the presence of a gun makes people in your office uncomfortable.  Generally I find that it is because people are unfamiliar with guns and based on portrayals by anti-gun folk, many consider them ‘evil’.  They are no more or less deadly that the scalpels that are routinely used in hospitals each day since it is the way the tool is used and the intention behind it that counts, not any inherent characteristic of the device itself.  By learning more about firearms and how they work, many people are no longer frightened of them.  They certainly should be treated with respect, but with proper education they should not cause ‘fear’.

You are certainly within your rights to put up a ‘no firearms’ sign at the entrance to your office, but I hope you’ll consider the impact on your patients and potentially your own employees as well.

Best regards,

Doug

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