Harbor Freight “Clarifies” Position on Firearms in Stores

Tool Retailer Says They Will Defer to Local Laws

HFyesgunsHarbor Freight, purveyor of cheap, foreign, disposable tools, caused a bit of a stir recently over their policy on legally carrying firearms into their stores.  In defending the policy, the company wrote on facebook, “[…] this policy is intended to provide an environment where all our customers feel comfortable […] all firearms should be left in your car while shopping at Harbor Freight.

Shortly thereafter, and following much outcry from firearm carry advocates, the company issued a “clarification” of their position.  And, apparently, “clarification” means “reversal.”  The company posted:   

In light of recent concerns, Harbor Freight Tools would like to clarify its position on ‘open carry’ (openly carrying a firearm in public).

We understand that there are a wide range of views on ‘open carry’ and other policies concerning firearms. We believe these policies should be addressed by the appropriate government agencies—not by Harbor Freight Tools. As a company, it’s not our policy to take a position on these issues other than to respect federal, state and local laws currently in effect.

Accordingly, we permit ‘open carry’ for our customers in jurisdictions where allowed, provided the firearms are carried in compliance with all applicable laws. We also ask our customers to be responsible and respectful of each other and our store associates.

HFnogunsThis is essentially the opposite of what Starbucks did, which was going from saying “just follow the law” to “please don’t bring your guns here.”  This also puts Harbor Freight in the same category as grocery retailer Kroger, who said:  “[w]e know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue, and we trust them to be responsible in our stores” in deferring to local firearm carry laws.

Peculiarly, as many comments on Harbor Freight’s Facebook post have pointed out, the original statement did not address open carry but, instead, prohibited the carrying of firearms in general.  Although the clarification/reversal only specifically mentions open carry, company representatives say that the deference to applicable federal, state, and local laws also applies to concealed carry.

Eat Safe Shop SafeAlthough it is theoretically possible that Harbor Freight recognized the absurdity of their “no guns” policy all on their own and decided to reverse it, there is a far more likely explanation.  The company noticed the ample backlash on social media (and probably through phone calls and emails as well) and realized the potential impact that alienating a large swath of their customer base would have on their bottom line.

Whatever their intentions were to begin with, their “clarification” certainly appears to be a total reversal and it certainly appears to be in response to customers voting with their wallets.  Patrons let the company know that, because of this ridiculous, do-nothing policy, they would shop elsewhere; no guns means no money.  This is the whole gist of our Project #EatSafe and #ShopSafe campaigns and it should serve as a reminder to everyone to politely voice their objections to businesses who enact anti-gun policies.  On the other side of that we should also thank and encourage businesses who take a stand or make a statement in favor of gun rights.

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