Among other things, I run a local women’s shooting chapter. We are part of The Well Armed Woman nationally and it’s a movement which has exploded since its inception in January, just eight short months ago.
Last night, one of my members informed me of an incident at our local Harry’s Farmer’s Market, which is owned by Whole Foods. She is a legal Georgia Weapons Carry License holder. She was carrying concealed but when she went to reach a high shelf, her top rode up, exposing her firearm. Now, carrying with a permit in GA allows for both open and conceal carry, so she was perfectly legal either way. Yet, she was asked to leave because the store manager informed her it was against store policy, which was recently instituted regionally.
She left, as not doing so could have earned her a criminal trespassing charge. She will not be patronizing their store anymore, either. She doesn’t wish to give her money to a place who wishes to disarm her, thereby making her even easier prey for a would-be attacker.
When she informed me of her experience, I immediately began sharing her story with peers. It has garnered a nice bit of attention on their local Facebook page and I’ve gotten offers of possible media attention for the matter. Currently, I am waiting to see if CEO John Mackey, or his Co-CEO or VP of Public Affairs will respond to the letter which was waiting for them in their inbox this morning:
My name is Elizabeth Finch. I have been a long time customer of Harry’s and Whole Foods, but will no longer patronize these establishments, as it has come to my attention that these stores are not locations where women such as myself can feel safe.
I am writing to you to inform you of an incident which took place in the Harry’s of Marietta, GA this evening. A woman who is legally permitted to carry a firearm in the state of GA (as well as numerous other states) was asked to leave.She was carrying concealed but when she went to reach up on a high shelf, her tank top exposed her sidearm and she was asked to leave, a request with which she complied.
In GA, with a permit, it is legal to carry either concealed or in open fashion. She was told by the store manager that the prohibition of firearms was a regional policy implemented about three weeks ago. Her attention was called to a sign at the bottom of one of the doors that firearms were prohibited in Harry’s. Now, such signs have no force of law here in GA but she has determined that she will not be supporting a business who does not respect local laws and rights. I am in agreement with her and I have also shared her experience with numerous others who are also in agreement.
There has been much displeasure expressed over this incident on Harry’s Marietta Facebook page. Gun permit holders comprise 11% of the population in GA. Women are the fastest growing demographic among gun owners. I can speak to this personally and professionally, as I am an NRA Certified Instructor and legal gun owner with 20 years of shooting experience. Additionally, I am a member of and volunteer for Georgia Carry, which is GA’s most effective gun rights lobby. I am also the leader of a national affiliated women’s shooting chapter. We serve to equip, empower and educate women. We have over 2400 members nationwide and more than 100 chapters nationally since our inception in January. Well over 200 of those members are in the immediate metro Atlanta area. This level of growth is evidence of the great demand out there among women who are interested in taking on the responsibility of learning to protect themselves.
I have studied your ideals and you seem to be a reasonable man regarding citizens’ rights. I’m sure you’re aware that gun-free zones only serve to invite criminal activity. Grocery store parking lots are already traditionally viewed as “scary” places. How does taking away a woman’s means to defend herself make sense?
Unless and until this policy is changed, I cannot in good conscience support Whole Foods or Harry’s. I also will discourage my family, friends, peers and fellow gun rights cohorts from giving their money to an establishment which attempts to make them feel less safe and lacks respect for the local rule of law.
I do hope that this matter is reconsidered and would appreciate your response.
Hopefully I will be able to soon provide an update of a positive response. Until then, I’ll shop elsewhere and I know many others who will do the same.