Customers seeing gun debate play out locally

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Major retailers across the country issued the call for customers not to openly carry guns into their stores. It’s a conversation that’s been ongoing for years, but recently started again after action from recent mass shootings.

Typically, people walk into a store, make purchases and leave with those goods. But lately, a lot of big box stores, even some locally, have been talking about not coming in with one particular item, and that’s a firearm.

One concerned citizen, Jim Parsons, thinks that move is shifting America towards allowing no weapons at all.

“God given rights. We should be able to protect and defend ourselves and not only ourselves, but out fellow man,” Parsons said. “The world’s an evil place today.”

Jim Parsons says he went to his local bank this week to cash a check. But noticed a sign saying ‘no firearms allowed.’ Angered that his second amendment rights were being violated, he took to social media, sharing just what he did with the bank teller that day. He told her that he couldn’t protect himself or her with those rules.

He added, “None of us know how we’re going to react until it actually happens. But I would like to think that I would do the right thing and at least have the option to intercede and protect.”

Five big box stores joined the gun debate this week starting with Walmart announcing it would no longer sell handgun and short barrel rifle ammunition following mass shootings. America’s largest retailer also requested customers no longer openly carry guns inside, including Sam’s Club. Kroger, Walgreens and CVS jumped on board.

Locally, The Barnyard Flea Markets make the request too; no firearms on property.

“If somebody’s going to rob that place, they’re going to look at the places around them and they’re not going to bother that place. They’re going to say that place is armed with some individuals that I don’t want to mess with,” he said.

Boyd Williams, a Barnyard shopper, disagrees. He said, “I don’t believe you should carry into an establishment like Walmart, Augusta Mall, even out here at the flea market. You don’t need it.”

A 2014 FBI study shows nearly half of all mass shootings happen in a commercial setting. And around that time major stores such as Target, Starbucks, Chili’s and Panera Bread decided customers should leave their guns outside. And despite being able to open carry in the Peach State and conceal carry with a permit in South Carolina and Georgia, stores are making that request that you do not openly carry.

Learn more about Georgia gun laws here.

Learn more about South Carolina gun laws here.

“Whatever vehicle I’m in, I’m going to have to leave it and take a chance on somebody breaking in and using it during a crime,” Parsons said of being asked to leave his gun in the car.

Williams said guns in stores is simply a bad idea for everyone’s safety. “Somebody getting shot that’s innocent by somebody with a hero complex.”

Again, I want to note the difference between open carry and conceal carry with a permit. It’s different in different stores and different states.

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