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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Regal Cinema’s Stupid Gun Policy


Regal Cinemas, the largest movie theater chain in the country, has a gun policy that prohibits people from bringing guns into its movie theaters. That includes people with concealed-carry permits.

That is one stupid policy.

In Virginia, where I live, people with concealed-carry permits are legally permitted to carry concealed guns, with certain exceptions. One of those exceptions is when a private establishment prohibits people from bringing guns onto their property. If a Virginian with a concealed-carry permit violates the private owner’s policy, he is subject to being prosecuted and convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can entail up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

What is Regal’s rationale for its gun policy? It wants to keep its patrons safe from murderers.

Is that stupid or what?

I’ve got a proposal for a better gun policy for Regal Cinemas. How about prohibiting only those people who intend to commit a violent crime from carrying a weapon into the theater? Everyone else would not be subject to the ban.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Jacob, that would be one stupid gun policy. And the reason you’re thinking that is because you’re thinking that people who intend to commit a violent crime inside the theater would not bother to comply with a ban on their carrying a gun into the theater.

But actually, when you reflect on it, I think you’ll see that my proposal is a smart one. Sure, you’re right to suggest that a mass murderer isn’t going to comply with a policy that bans guns in the theater. But the advantage of my proposal is that everyone else would still be able to defend himself from the mass murderer because they’d have their weapon with them inside the theater.

The reason that the Regal policy is stupid is twofold: (1) because mass murderers are going to violate Regal’s gun policy; and (2) the policy prevents people with concealed-carry permits from defending themselves with their guns.

Last year, Regal decided to put some teeth in its policy by requiring people in at least some of its theaters to subject their bags and purses to inspection. (I’ve never seen such a search being conducted in a Regal theater here in Virginia.) At the same time, however, it is not subjecting people to pat-down searches or requiring them to walk through metal detectors.

Isn’t that just compounding stupidity with stupidity? All that a mass murderer has to do is hide a 9mm Glock pistol inside his pants or jacket, along with several magazines. All that Regal has done with its search policy is ensure that women aren’t using purses to sneak guns (or candy) into the theater in the hope of defending themselves from mass murderers who don’t give a hoot about Regal’s gun policy.

Under principles of freedom and private property, people have the right to be stupid and to adopt stupid policies for their privately owned establishments. An Internet search reveals that some gun owners are no longer patronizing Regal theaters either out of principle or simply because they don’t feel safe there. Of course, the right to boycott private establishments that adopt stupid policies is also what freedom is all about.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.