Man helps con­nect pro-gun con­sumers to like-minded busi­nesses

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY MERED­ITH SOMERS

The win­dows of restau­rants and busi­nesses are of­ten crowded with signs and stick­ers de­not­ing store hours and ac­cepted credit cards, but a Lees­burg restau­ra­teur is look­ing to add one more de­cal in the name of con­sti­tu­tional rights.

Bryan Cross­white has cre­ated 2amend­ment.org, an online data­base where gun­rights busi­nesses can reg­is­ter their names and ad­dresses and get stick­ers for their win­dows that sig­nal they are friendly to le­gal gun own­ers who ex­er­cise their right to bear arms.

“We want to make it some­thing for busi­ness own­ers who are pro-Sec­ond Amend­ment,” said Mr. Cross­white, owner of The Ca­jun Ex­pe­ri­ence. “A sticker on the door, just like Za­gat [Sur­vey], and that way peo­ple who want to do busi­ness with pro-Sec­ond Amend­ment com­pa­nies will au­to­mat­i­cally con­nect with those Sec­ond Amend­ment com­pa­nies.”

Mr. Cross­white, 40, said about 10 busi­nesses have signed on since the site went op­er­a­tional Sun­day night. He said a phone app is in de­vel­op­ment and should be run­ning within a month that will al­low users to lo­cate gun-friendly busi­nesses nearby, sim­i­lar to the way some web­sites lo­cate restau­rants for cer­tain tastes and in­comes.

The stick­ers — fea­tur­ing the logo “2AO 2014” in gold let­ters against a black back­drop — have been or­dered and will be given to com­pa­nies as they reg­is­ter.

The web­site has gone online as the de­bate be­tween gun-rights ac­tivists and gun­con­trol sup­port­ers con­tin­ues to roil com­mu­ni­ties. A restau­rant in Wood­bridge made head­lines by post­ing a “no guns per­mit­ted” sign on its door.

Mr. Cross­white, who hosts a weekly Open Carry Wed­nes­day at his es­tab­lish­ment, said the web­site is not a re­ac­tion to the Wood­bridge restau­rant’s move but a re­sponse to grow­ing in­ter­est in show­ing sup­port for gun-friendly busi­nesses. He said he has re­ceived reg­is­tra­tion re­quests and sup­port from insurance com­pa­nies, cof­fee shops and firearm-train­ing com­pa­nies.

Baraka James, owner of the Lovettsville-based Mod­ern Amer­i­can Shoot­ing & Firearms, reg­is­tered his busi­ness and is now help­ing Mr. Cross­white run the site. His com­pany teaches self-de­fense and ba­sic pis­tol train­ing. Mr. James, 41, said he de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in firearm pro­tec­tion af­ter his fa­ther was fa­tally shot dur­ing a home invasion.

“I’m an ad­vo­cate of ev­ery law-abid­ing Amer­i­can cit­i­zen learn­ing how to de­fend them­selves with a firearm and car­ry­ing a firearm on a daily ba­sis,” Mr. James said. “I want to know the busi­nesses they go to will wel­come them.”

Vir­ginia law states that pri­vate prop­erty own­ers also have the right to pro­hibit guns in their busi­nesses. The law is fre­quently as­so­ci­ated with a statute that took ef­fect in 2010 that al­lowed Vir­ginia gun own­ers to carry con­cealed weapons into busi­nesses where al­co­hol is served, as long as they don’t drink.

The same year the Vir­ginia law went into ef­fect, Ten­nessee en­acted a law al­low­ing a per­son car­ry­ing a gun to en­ter a restau­rant that serves al­co­hol un­less the owner pro­hibits that per­son.

Ray Fried­man, a pro­fes­sor at the Van­der­bilt Univer­sity Owen Grad­u­ate School of Man­age­ment, be­gan the Gun Free Din­ing Ten­nessee web­site that of­fers re­sources for restau­rant own­ers and con­sumers look­ing for a firearm-free busi­ness.

“Most peo­ple don’t want guns where there’s al­co­hol,” Mr. Fried­man said. “Our site was based on the premise that if peo­ple had that in­for­ma­tion, they’d stay away from places that al­lowed guns and pref­er­ence those places that didn’t al­low guns.”

Mr. Fried­man said his site has taken thou­sands of vol­un­teer hours to col­lect in­for­ma­tion from restau­rants. He said part of the rea­son for the slow go­ing is “mas­sive con­fu­sion” among restau­rant own­ers about gun laws, and many would rather avoid the is­sue en­tirely.

“They do not want to be both­ered. They don’t want to of­fend one side or the other side,” Mr. Fried­man said. “Un­for­tu­nately, if you fol­low the law you can’t stay out of it be­cause if you do noth­ing you’re mak­ing a choice.”

Ed Levine, founder of Vir­ginia Open Carry, said he agrees with those who say gun-car­ry­ing pa­trons might not pre­vent rob­beries in restau­rants, but if a crime oc­curs he wants to be armed.

“I don’t like to go to places that are gun­free zones,” he said. “I don’t like to go places to where only the bad guys are the ones with guns.”

Still, Mr. Levine was with­hold­ing judg­ment be­cause he thought the site could have neg­a­tive ef­fects on busi­nesses. “I’m in­dif­fer­ent on it right now,” he said. Mr. Cross­white, though, sees ben­e­fits to busi­nesses tout­ing sup­port for the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

“We have in­di­vid­u­als who want to spend money and spend money with peo­ple who are like-minded,” he said.

AN­DREW HARNIK/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

The founder of 2amend­ment.org, Bryan Cross­white, wants to help pro-Sec­ond Amend­ment con­sumers con­nect to com­pa­nies that sup­port the right to bear arms.

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