Shopping with Guns?

Man openly carrying a holstered side arm disturbs customers.

Center for American Progress Report

Center for American Progress Report

On the first really warm Saturday this spring, customers were out in droves at the Stockbridge, Georgia Lowes Garden Center. Elderly couples, moms with children in tow were picking over vegetables and a myriad of flowers to start summer gardens. Into this bustling scene walked a man with a holstered gun strapped to his belt. When he entered the garden area, he went unchallenged by store staff. No staff person politely approached him and asked him to please leave his gun in his vehicle.

The reaction of the shopping customers was immediate. One pre-teen girl pointed at the man and said, “Mommy, that man has a gun.” The mother looked up from the petunias and responded, “Carla, get over here and stay behind me.” Clearly, the mother was agitated by the site of the man with the gun in the Garden Center. One elderly couple, probably in their late 70’s, noticed the man when the young girl pointed him out.  The husband asked, “Why does he need a gun to shop at Lowes?” The wife quipped, “I don’t know, maybe he’s going to shoot a shoplifter,” she half-joked. But, the woman promptly demanded of her spouse, “Let’s leave, Honey,” and they did. These types of conversations were repeated by several customers – yet no one, not even the disconcerted customers said a word to the man with the gun. Instead of speaking up and complaining to the store manager, they left the store. Except one person who was also made uncomfortable by the open display of weaponry in what should have been a gun free zone.

A team member of Blogging While Blue was present and witnessed the entire episode from the man’s entry to his departure. A store manager was called and a complaint was filed. The store manager, was challenged, “Why does Lowes let hand guns in their stores?” The response was, “I don’t know the laws. I don’t even know if Lowe’s has a policy on guns on the premises.” The store manager, pleaded ignorance and it was obvious from the conversation he was being truthful. When asked, “Do not Lowes customers have a right to shop in a safe environment and in a gun free zone?” There was no response, the store manager just shrugged his shoulders and encouraged a complaint to be filed with his corporate headquarters.

This incident happens daily in Georgia, giving rise to lots of unanswered questions. What about the rights of customers to shop serenely and not be violated by the sight of a man carrying a firearm to the point of leaving the store? What about the right of Lowe’s as a corporation to ban guns in their stores? (If they don’t already – this store manager clearly did not know.) Does Lowes enjoy property rights to control what goes on inside their store? Do their rights as storeowners get trumped by this man’s right to openly carry a weapon? Surely they do not. Or do they in Georgia? From this incident, let’s hope corporations, like Lowes, will step up to the plate and place limits on gun carry in their stores and put pressure on the Governor to lead the General Assembly to make sensible decisions about guns in Georgia.

Interestingly, the National Rifle Association’s position of “guns at any cost” is now forcing a state-by-state legislative debate. As customers uncomfortable with a man carrying a gun in a store complain to the corporate offices, this should force corporate leaders to do the right thing- adopt laws that create gun free zones.  Corporation-by-corporation gun policy makes no more sense than state-by-state laws. America needs uniform gun laws – universal background checks, limits on open gun carry, tight control of military assault weapons and magazines. Why does anyone need a gun to shop at Lowe’s on a warm spring day?



  1. Good blog. I may have to rethink my choice to where to chop. Any store that would allow a person other than a law enforcement officer to openly carry a weapon may not be patronized by me in the future.

    • Burroughston Broch says:

      As is your right.
      However, law enforcement officers in Metro Atlanta have a less-than-sterling criminal and violence record, so you may also want to avoid stores that allow armed law enforcement officers as well.