Farm and Fleet sells firearm supplies but anti-carry policy???
Wisconsin Carry takes an "all of the above" approach to protecting and advancing the right to carry in Wisconsin.
In the past, individual members, and WCI as an organization have had success in getting stores who post signs prohibiting carry to take the signs down and allow carry as state law provides. We don't have the resources to get involved every time a store or business posts a "no firearms" sign, but we do look at situations on a case by case basis and if we believe there is an issue that affects a large number of members where we can make a difference, we may get involved.
This is one of those situations.
Farm and Fleet recently posted a sign at the door of one of their stores (Oak Creek, Wisconsin) which prohibits any and all carry from their stores. This policy, which WCI has confirmed with their corporate office, prohibits open-carry (which is currently legal in Wisconsin) and it will ALSO prohibit concealed carry when passed (expected to happen in 2011).
Yesterday, I placed a call to Farm and Fleet's corporate offices (Blain's Supply, Inc) in Janesville, WI and spoke with "Gary Hilt" a Vice-President who handles this issue.
Gary was nice enough to spend about 1/2 hour on the phone with me discussing the issue and genuinely, he was very receptive and seemed to consider my points and was not dismissive of information provided.
He shared with me some information about how Farm and Fleet came to their policy on a "weapons free environment" (at least weapons free from those who carry legally).
At this time, my personal opinion is that the information Farm and Fleet relied on to come to their policy -(input from legal counsel/insurance/anecdotal customer survey) was not as robust and informed as it could have been. I don't think it gave them a true picture of the support that right to carry has. (again just my opinion based on our conversation in addition to considering that SO many other regional and national retailers - Woodmans, Pick n Save, Best Buy, Dunhams Sports, Home Depot, Wal-mart, CULVERS, Starbucks, etc) ALL surely went through a similar exercise and came to a DIFFERENT conclusion to ALLOW carry as provided by state law. Farm and Fleet definitely isn't an "anti-gun" organization in principle (just in practice).
Mr. Hilt advised me that he was going to go back to the board over the next 2 weeks (lots of people on vacation this week with the holiday and review their policy).
At the current time, their policy has not changed, but he IS going to review it.
AS SUCH, I think the time is right and there is an opportunity to influence their decision if we all send polite letters and make contact with Farm and Fleet to let them know that their customer base really DOES support the right to carry. Let Farm and Fleet know you prefer to continue to patronize their stores, but cannot in principle as they don't support your right to carry in practice.
Let Farm and Fleet know that since nearly ALL other regional and national retailers ALLOW lawful carry, they place themselves at NO competitive disadvantage by allowing carry as well. Almost all major stores/retail chains allow lawful carry. The few people would prefer to shop in a store that restricts the right to legally carry have very few alternative choices. People who want to shop in a store that DOES support the right to carry have MANY options.
Farm and Fleet's policy is ill-advised. Also share with Farm and Fleet that major retailers like: Gander Mountain, Dunham's Sports, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Woodman's, Pick n Save, Starbucks, Culvers, and hundreds of other stores/chains all ALLOW lawful carry.
It was also interesting. Mr. Hilt shared with me that in the 55 year history of their company there has never been an instance IN THEIR STORE of someone being assaulted or needing to defend themselves. Of course as the nightly news proves, the papers are full of "never thought it would happen here" situations where innocent people are not around today because they had no opportunity to defend themselves.
I think as you all drop letters and make polite contact with Farm and Fleet you might offer the knowledge that while no one may have been assaulted IN their store (yet), a person's safety IS in jeopardy walking FROM their store to their car.
Case in point, just a few days ago a person was assaulted and badly beaten in a Farm and Fleet parking lot after leaving the store in Madison:
Farm and Fleet may be able to claim that in 55 years no one has been assaulted IN their store (yet), but they surely can't claim that no one has been assaulted OUTSIDE their store. Criminals ARE committing crimes in Farm and Fleet parking lots against INNOCENT defenseless people. By prohibiting people from carrying IN their store, they are also making those people defenseless victims IN THEIR PARKING LOT as shoppers return to their vehicle unarmed. Criminals now CLEARLY know (based on posted signs) that anyone coming from Farm and Fleet will be unarmed. (even after Wisconsin passes concealed carry this year)
Share this example with Farm and Fleet when you contact them.
POLITE LETTERS AND CONTACT CAN BE MADE VIA THE FOLLOWING METHODS:
Blain's Supply, Inc. (corporate office)
3507 East Racine Street
Janesville, WI 53546-2320
Blain Supply, Inc.
PO Box 391
Blain's Farm and Fleet 24 hour customer care hotline:
electronic contact opportunities: (use customer contact form on this page)
Lets politely share with Farm and Fleet how many of their customers do NOT support their policy of banning the right to carry in their stores and that we will happily continue to shop there ONLY after they change their policy.
For owners that do not want to support those that choose to deny carry in their stores, there are many other choices than Blain's in WI.
The topic has brought out a lot of anti's decrying nobody but police should carry, why should one have to carry while shopping, WI is doomed if more carry options are allowed, etc. They are missing that owners are reminding Blain's that there are shopping options if they want to exclude gun owners.