Some New York businesses welcoming concealed carry holders

(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

When New York’s new concealed carry restrictions take effect on September 1st, most private businesses in the state are going to become “gun-free zones” by default. Under the legislation approved by lawmakers in the days following the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, virtually all private businesses will be off-limits to legal gun carriers unless they specifically post a sign allowing concealed carry on the premises.

That rule is one of several new restrictions that are being challenged in court, but in the meantime some Second Amendment advocates are doing all they can to encourage businesses to adopt an open-door policy when it comes to concealed carry.

[Tzvi] Waldman, the head of the New York State Jewish Gun Club, has been handing out posters to businesses in the lower Hudson Valley, which alert customers that it’s OK to bring a concealed weapon into the store.

They read: “Concealed Carry is Welcome Here. Thank you for keeping our children safe. May Hashem continue to watch over us.”

The way Waldman sees it, armed self-defense is how all cultures – not just Jews − who flee oppression can take a stand to prevent the sort of tyranny they encountered in their homeland. And it’s an essential right amid a wave of mass shootings at synagogues, schools, a shopping mall and a Buffalo supermarket that have highlighted the vulnerabilities of private citizens.

“It’s embracing the American culture,” Waldman said. “We’re here. We’re safe. Let’s keep America safe. We don’t want it to go back to where it was. … As long as we have the right to bear arms no one can force us back into chambers − anyone into chambers. It just can’t happen.”

Waldman isn’t just focusing on Jewish-owned businesses, and those who have put up the signage letting the public know that concealed carry is welcomed and appreciated say they’ve been surprised by just how positive the response has been.

Lucas McLaughlin, who owns a diner in Cobleskill, Schoharie County, was in Ace Hardware a few weeks back when he spotted a sticker that welcomes customers with concealed carry permits.

He put it on the door to the diner and was stunned by the response. People have been sending him messages saying they were going to travel a long distance to show their support.

“In all honesty it had nothing to do with or against the governor,” McLaughlin said. “The timing just happened to be perfect.”

He worried that families would hesitate to bring their children in because they’d fear everyone inside had a handgun.

But that hasn’t happened. The diner west of Albany has been in his family for three generations and is some 45 minutes from Conklin, the hometown of the man accused of killing 10 people in a racially-motivated attack at a Buffalo supermarket in May.

The sticker posted on the door of the Cobleskill Diner tells customers it’s OK to enter with a concealed weapon

“I slapped it on there and people were saying ‘Hey I’m really glad you put that there because of all the craziness,” McLaughlin said.

The diner has been broken into three times in the middle of the night.

“I feel like if customers are allowed to carry their own protection, if God forbid someone were to walk in here and try doing something, we wouldn’t just have a bunch of hands up in the air,” he said. “I feel like (the sign) is better than an ADT sticker.”

If McLaughlin owned a diner in Brooklyn or the Bronx he might be getting more complaints than praise from customers, but once you get outside New York City and the immediate suburbs it’s not hard at all to find support for the right to keep and bear arms.

I’m still hopeful that a judge will grant an injunction barring the enforcement of New York’s post-Bruen gun laws this month, and that these signs will be able to come down before September 1st. Property owners should be able to declare their establishments “gun-free zones” if they wish, but given that the Supreme Court has explicitly stated that a general right to bear arms in public for self-defense is protected by the Constitution, it should be up to business owners to opt-out of allowing lawful concealed carry on the premises rather than some business owners being allowed to opt-in. New York’s new “sensitive places” law not only requires business owners to post a sign alerting customers to the fact that concealed carry is welcomed, it forbids many types of businesses from allowing concealed carry even if they want to. If, for instance, the Cobleskill Diner served alcohol, then Lucas McLaughin wouldn’t be able to allow concealed carry inside, because all restaurants that serve intoxicating beverages are completely prohibited from establishing a pro-carry policy.

It’s an absurd standard, and hopefully it won’t be too long before the legal system puts these new laws on ice. In the meantime, it’s great to see activists like Tzvi Waldman encouraging businesses in his community to stand up for the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers, and I’m glad he’s getting such a positive response.