Once you’ve spent enough time running a gun store, you would have probably already encountered almost every type of customer there is. There’s the customer that asks a million questions about all of the guns on display, there’s the one that brought their entire family with them, and then there’s always a person that’s trying to buy a gun illegally.
Most customer sins are harmless and just mere annoyances, but there are some behaviors that can get you in legal trouble if you don’t address them properly. Whether you are a new gunsmith or already have years of experience behind you, here are some of the worst customer behaviors that you have to know about, and what you can do about them:
Coming in intoxicated or high
Every gun store should have a sign that prohibits the entry of intoxicated or high individuals. However, there is still going to be someone who ignores that sign completely and walks in looking for a gun. And if they are already carrying, even if they have a license to do so, they can be charged for a crime since it is illegal to drink or enter an establishment that serves alcohol while carrying a firearm.
Asking about illegal firearms
If someone asks about illegal firearms, chances are, they already know that they are illegal.
Pointing the muzzle at someone
One of the most important rules of gun safety is to never point a firearm at something that you do not intend to destroy. Still, a lot of people ignore this rule, especially in gun stores because they know that the firearm is unloaded. Even so, every customer must abide by this rule–not only because it’s the safe way to inspect a firearm, but because everyone else in the establishment will be comfortable when they don’t have someone pointing a gun at them.
Testing the background check
There are certain individuals that may show up at your gun store and ask for an informal background check just to “see if they pass”. If they ask for one, they probably already know that they won’t pass, and it is not worth your time to do so. Moreover, if someone is asking for this, it’s clear that they have a questionable past.
Not bringing their permit
If the state requires a permit to own a firearm, every one of your customers must have it with them before they come touching the guns. If they insist that they left it at home or are in the process of getting one, it’s best to show them the door and ask them to come back once they have their permit with them.
What you can do to protect yourself
As the owner of the gun store, you will be inherently responsible if someone gets injured on your property or because of the products you sell. Aside from possibly landing you in legal hot water, you could also face a decline in your business reputation–not to mention the financial loss that covering injuries will inevitably bring.
The best way to protect yourself is by obtaining good gunsmith liability insurance. With this type of policy, you can get covered for:
- Liquor legal liability
- Professional liability
- Third-party medical expense
- Damage to rental property
- Personal and advertising liability
- Products and completed operations coverage
Furthermore, it is best to consult with a business lawyer to keep your establishment compliant with all the relevant laws on the federal and local levels. Ideally, you should have a business lawyer even when you’re not facing a lawsuit. They can guide you in making decisions that affect the legality of your business, and most importantly, they are one call away when you run into a legal problem at any point in time.
Other ways you can protect your business from customers’ actions include:
- Using your right to deny service to intoxicated individuals
- Showing people the door when they talk about anything illegal
- Running thorough background checks on every person that tries to buy a firearm
- Educating your employees about proper actions against poor customer etiquette
- Posting plenty of signage to remind customers what they can and cannot do while inside your store
- Hiring a security officer to keep an eye on customers while employees are busy working
- Installing an adequate security system and making its presence known to customers
Even if your gun store is heavily secured and has the best safety protocols in place, your customers’ actions may still get you into legal trouble. Protect yourself first by knowing what kind of poor behavior to expect, and then finding ways to mitigate these risks and addressing them altogether.