A pair of D.C. sisters angered by recent court rulings that allow gun owners to carry concealed pistols in the District are looking to profit from a venture that educates businesses about the loosened firearms restrictions.
Through their company — Goods, Not Guns — Dari Yudkoff Pogach and Aliza Yudkoff Glasner are selling “firearms prohibited” stickers to businesses so owners can advertise that they do not allow concealed handguns inside their stores.
“It was a good chance to raise awareness and also provide a service by selling regulation-compliant signs in the District,” Ms. Pogach said.
Last summer a federal judge overturned the District’s long-standing ban on carrying firearms in public. As a result, city lawmakers developed regulations requiring people to get permits before they are allowed to carry concealed handguns and restricting some of the places where they can be carried.
The regulations ban concealed handguns from being brought into locations such as city government buildings, schools, public transportation, bars and sports stadiums but leave the decision about whether a firearm can be brought into a business up to the owner. If a proprietor doesn’t welcome firearms inside a store, the business owner is required either to post “conspicuous signage” informing patrons or to inform patrons personally of the policy.
After reaching out informally to several businesses the sisters frequent, they found that many owners were not familiar with the specifics of the law and saw an opportunity. The sisters, who are both attorneys and mothers, created a 13-inch by 8-inch sticker that can be placed in the window of a business to satisfy the requirement of posting a sign.
“It’s about business owners having the right to maintain their business as they see fit,” Ms. Pogach said.
It’s an idea that’s previously caught some traction. Former D.C. Council member Tommy Wells and his staff created “Gun Free D.C.” signs for business owners last summer in reaction to the ruling federal court ruling that overturned the city’s ban on carrying firearms.
But whereas Mr. Wells’ council staff drafted the logo and distributed it for free to interested business owners who could use it to print their own signs, Ms. Pogach and Ms. Glasner are asking businesses to pony up $30 for one of their window signs.
The number of people permitted to carry so far in the District is small — only 26 had received permits as of mid-May — due to laws that limit permits to those who can prove a “good reason” to need to carry. The number could grow as U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin recently ordered the District to cease enforcement of the “good reason” requirement. Law enforcement officers also are allowed under federal law to carry firearms while off-duty.
Ms. Pogach and Ms. Glasner, who announced the launch of the business Tuesday on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, plan to pitch their “Goods, Not Guns” signs at local business meet-ups and Advisory Neighborhood Commission meetings. They hope to coordinate with local groups that assist victims of gun violence with the hope of partnering with them in the future.
The effort isn’t without the threat of backlash, however. Several Second Amendment activist groups around the country have kept track of businesses that do and don’t allow gun owners to carry firearms in their stores, in some cases creating boycott lists of companies that take an anti-gun stance.
But in the District, where a heavily Democratic electorate has supported gun control measures embraced by lawmakers, restaurant owner Matt Colbertson said he isn’t worried about pushback.
Mr. Colbertson bought a “Goods, Not Guns” sticker for his Mount Pleasant restaurant, Radius Pizza, to discourage a mix of firearms and alcohol.
“I think most people in the neighborhood are on point as well,” he said.
D.C. law makes it a criminal offense to carry a firearm while drinking alcohol or impaired, and bans concealed carry inside bars. But Mr. Colbertson said he wanted a sign to make it clear in case people didn’t understand city firearms regulations.
Delroy Burton, chairman of the union representing Metropolitan Police Department officers, said such policies could create consternation for off-duty officers. Department regulations require off-duty officers to carry their department-issued weapon and badge when they come into the city, except under specific scenarios such as if they are drinking, and prohibit them from storing their firearms in their vehicles.
While he understands the angst over having firearms in the same environment as alcohol, Mr. Burton said he doesn’t think the proposal will get widespread support, particularly as open carry is still prohibited in the District.
“In a regular business like a restaurant, or a carryout or a bookstore, why would the owner care?” Mr. Burton said. “They will not know who is carrying a weapon and who is not.”
Mr. Colbertson said he would be willing to make an exception for off-duty police officers, though he said some who frequent the restaurant now don’t bring their firearms.
“We are on very good terms with police officers in our neighborhood,” he said. “They won’t carry them in here. They know how I feel about it.”