I tend to keep my eyes open for the “gunbusters” signs seen at many business entrances here in Arizona. All other things being equal, I would prefer to patronize businesses without such signs, but the reality is other things are seldom equal. On a visit to IKEA earlier this year, I found this variation of the sign posted near the front entrance:
What surprised me most about the sign was its language. Typically such signs read “no firearms allowed” along with a reference to certain state statutes, depending on whether the business serves alcohol. (I’ve also seen signs referencing statutes that don’t exist and signs referencing the alcohol statute when the business doesn’t serve alcohol, but I’ll save those topics for future posts.) The message of these signs is clear: these businesses want their patrons to enter without firearms.
This sign, however, reads “weapons free environment”. Note the subtle difference. Rather than giving an instruction or a warning to a potential patron, this sign gives assurance — the assurance IKEA is keeping weapons out of its store.
The question, then, is how is IKEA backing up its assurance? There were no metal detectors nor visible security personnel near the entrance. Are patrons being discretely x-rayed? And what constitutes a “weapon”? After leaving the store I remembered my Swiss Army knife was in my pocket. Years ago I was relieved of the exact same model knife at a TSA checkpoint in Denver. If it was a weapon then, it’s a weapon now.
With such bold assurance I was in a “weapons free environment”, why didn’t IKEA do more to keep me safe from … me?