Guns and jewelers

i realize most on here do not have their own store in the U. S. but
for those that do, i am wondering what the opinion is. there have
been a lot of bullet holes put in jewelers in this country. as
makers of expensive things we are targets of thieves. insurance can
protect our bottom line but i for one feel that isn’t enough. our
policies in this country have come under fire recently and maybe a
conversation can be brought up within our community. for my part i
will admit to being on the side of firearm use. i feel there are two
essentials for those that choose to take this road. know your weapon
and watch your environment. the first is overlooked the most. many
people own firearms but it is a very dangerous thing to own without
making sure you are comfortable with it. i feel that if you are
going to carry a fire arm you must spend a good amount of time at a
range with it. putting a few hundred rounds per year minimum through
your fire arm is necessary for you to be able to carry it
responsibly. i won’t get into the tactical training necessary in
this comment but there is a lot to it. watching your environment is
also important. using a firearm can be very dangerous in a public
place and knowing your environment is important to prevent injury to
others. i know this will bring a fire storm of comments from some
but fun is fun. i for one will take my chances defending myself so i
might go home at the end of the night. for store owners the danger
dosnt end at the store. the home is one of the most viable targets
for thieves. home invasions, gps tracked cars, insurances companies
telling us to drive a different route home each night. police and
politicians can’t protect us, magazine and gun bans won’t help us
keep our families safe. in the end commander colt was right.

You know I see most discussions about guns in the US for at least
the past couple of decades as being a bad cross between politics and
religion. It is all about belief, faith and rhetoric with no logic
or rational thought involved and probably a really bad subject to
toss around here, especially given some of the recent trouble we have
had with a few topics.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

 I see most discussions about guns in the US for at least the past
couple of decades as being a bad cross between politics and
religion. It is all about belief, faith and rhetoric with no logic
or rational thought involved and probably a really bad subject to
toss around here, especially given some of the recent trouble we
have had with a few topics. 

To clarify - I will only allow discussions on the pro’s and con’s of
having a gun in the jewelry shop, including real life stories. I will
not allow discussions about gun legislation nor politicaly charged

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When I first opened my store I asked a friend, who was a NYS Police
(BCI) detective what he thought I should do for security. He went on
about safes, locks, alarms, cameras and insurance policies. I was
surprised he didn’t bring up guns because he was very much a gun
enthusiast. When I asked specifically about guns he said my most
likely risk was burglary.

There had not been an armed robbery of a Mom-and-Pop jewelry store
in rural Western new York State in over twenty five years. We had
that conversation about fifteen years ago. There actually was an
"armed robbery" in Corning NY this summer, but no weapon was
displayed. But that’s another story.

My detective friend explained that the kind of criminal who is after
money and is desperate enough to risk a hold-up is going to go for a
convenience store, where there is cash. A jewelry thief needs to be
a bit smarter, because selling stolen jewelry was not as easy then as
it is now with all these “we buy gold” signs in every business
district. So the somewhat smarter jewelry robber knows that
corporate owned chain stores have a no resistance policy towards
hold-ups and that Mom and Pop are very likely going to shoot back.
Attempting an armed robbery is pretty stupid if the intended victim
is armed, so it just doesn’t happen very often, at least not in rural
Western NY, where I am. I was told that it didn’t matter if I had a
gun or not because I would be protected by “the halo effect”. That is
best described as the assumption that there is a high enough
likelihood that I am armed, because so many people like me are also
armed, that the criminal is not going to take a chance.

I used to make a lot of mokume and I collect Damascus steel
shotguns. One of my most beautiful antique shotguns hangs on the wall
in the office in plain view of anyone coming in the front door to my
store. If anyone asks about it, I explain the similarity between
pattern welded Damascus steel and mokume. But I imagine that any
criminally inclined person who is checking me out only sees a double
barrel 12 gauge big scarey gun.

In the heated rhetoric we are hearing so much of these days, it is
often said that guns are only for killing. This could not be more
wrong, because when guns are used for self defense or robbery they
are almost always used for intimidation. The Corning hold-up man
proves that even an imaginary gun is intimidating enough to get out
of the store with a pretty good haul of jewelry and he was lucky
enough not to get shot trying it. Most policemen never fire their
guns at criminals, but the fact that they have guns empowers them to
carry out their work. I don’t advocate a whole lot of swagger and I
wouldn’t put an NRA membership sticker on the front door.

I don’t think my Damascus shotgun offends many anti-gun potential
customers, because of what it is and that this is an area where
hunting is very common, so most people here are fairly cool about
guns. Keeping the bad guys intimidated without upsetting the
customers is my plan.

Steve Walker


As jewelers we are no different than anyone else in this country.

Everyone has a right to defend themselves and others if they can.

You are correct that guns require training and practice in order to
be used effectively when necessary.

So practice, practice, practice.

And yes, you will start a firestorm with this one! But everything you
said was spot on!



I agree. I carry in the shop and the road. I am a licensed concealed
carry and have been trained by law enforcement, the military, the
NRA, and even the Boy Scouts many decades ago.

I was advised by my local police and law enforcement in Virginia TO
carry at all times when I am going to and coming from shows - where
it is legally permitted.

In 2007, as two gang bangers were attempting to break into my hotel
room after the desk clerk gave them a duplicate room key, 911 argued
with me as to whether I really needed the police to come out.

When the officer finally got there, he looked at me and said it was
not his job to help me while I was being robbed. He would get there
when he could and then do the paperwork.

That was in Richmond.

I have never forgotten that.

I spoke to the state police and they told me to go home, do the
course, and get a concealed carry.

I have had colleagues killed even after surrendering the money and
jewelry. I have had colleagues followed home from shows and attacked
and robbed.

Ever apprentice who works with me, as part of their training, goes
through gun safety and I pay for ammo, range time and lessons if

I realize that not all people are comfortable with firearms or with
the idea of using them.

If you are not comfortable or have a religious, etc. objection to
firearms, that is absolutely your right.

I choose to protect my family, myself, my apprentices, and my
customers. Jewelry can be replaced. That is why you have insurance.

Lives cannot be replaced.

I honestly hope and pray that I will never need to use a firearm to
protect myself.

But I am prepared to if needed.

I used to work in a store in Miami where everyone was armed.

We never had to use our guns in the 18 years I was there.

But from the videos of jewelry store robberies I’ve seen, robbers
just come in and shoot everyone first, then break the glass cases
and steal the loot.

My favorite form of protection is a door buzzer (electronic lock)
that prevents a person from leaving without being buzzed out.

I have friends with a retail store and their buzzer keeps people out
but the customer (or robber) can simply open the door when leaving.

I’ve tried to impress on them the stupidity of that; They’ve never
not buzzed someone in. But they continue to allow customers/robbers
to simply walk out when their business is concluded, which I think
is idiotic.

I’d like to hear what other shopkeepers do regarding electronic

Paf Dvorak

Having a firearm in your store is a dubious proposition. Ask any
professional trained in thier use, such as police or military, what
to expect in a situation where guns are drawn. If you think you know
how you would react, you are probably mistaken. It doesn’t matter
how much practice you have, you still can’t predict if you’d actually
be able to shoot someone, or if you’d be able to think clearly at all
with bullets flying and adrenaline coursing through your veins. Get
to know your local police. If they show up during a robbery, and you
and the robber both have guns drawn, you don’t want them to shoot the
wrong person. I’m insured, they can have anything they want, and I
want them out of the store as quickly as possible.

Another thing, if they know you are armed, they will probably enter
guns drawn and nervous and trigger happy. If you don’t have a silent
alarm with a panic button handy, get one. And think twice about
getting a gun. And if you do decide to get one, a short barrelled
shotgun is the best choice.

As for me, I won’t be going there.

David L. Huffman

I know this is a hot button topic. I have worked in shops where guns
are feared and banned completely, and also shops where owners and
staff are armed, or have firearms close at hand.

In nearly 40 years as a jeweler I have seen several very tense
situations, but never has a weapon been down. I do know personally,
everyone in the shop that had firearms available if they had been
required, was a lot less scared and intimidated by the
confrontation, because they knew they would not have to wait for
police to arrive if things suddenly, rapidly escalated to violence
in the store.

In the stores and shops I have worked in where guns were present,
anyone who had access to a weapon was expected to be competent and
have skill witha firearm, but no one would have been tolerated, who
the staff saw as acowboy or gun nut, ready, willing and hoping for a

Also, in my experience most jewelry related salesmen who travel,
especially in the diamond trade are probably armed, but they very
seldom will discuss that at all. Keeping quiet is part of how they
try to avoid becominga target, and if they do ever need to use their
weapon they do not want their assailant prepared ahead of time, by
prior knowledge of the weapon they are carrying.

Hi Brain,

(Must resist Pinky jokes. must. resist.)

Well, you’ve likely pulled the pin out a grenade on this one. Tempers
are running pretty hot on the issue at the moment, at least in the

One suggestion before I get into what passes for a reply:
Punctuation and capitalization are really important. Uncapitalized
block paragraphs are very hard to read, and many people won’t
bother. If the subject matter of your message had been different, I
probably wouldn’t have waded through it.

I had a big long reply written out, but I put it on my ‘think about
it before posting pile’ last night. Having thought about it, I
dumped it.

I’m not sure what’s to be gained by opening this particular can of
worms here.

Emotions are running high in the States, and pretty much everybody
has picked a side. There’s almost no chance of changing anybody’s
mind, and a near certainty of it turning into a shouting match. Look
at how much fun we just had with a discussion that started with the
mathematical nature of curves in a computer program.

So, yes, we’re jewelers. And yes, we do have better cause than most
to have guns for personal defense.

Everything after that is a personal decision, and I don’t see how
there’s even much to be talked about from there. Certainly nothing
that meshes with Orchid’s mission, which is to talk (civilly) about
jewelry making topics.


A very timely subject. Thanks for bringing it up!

About twenty years ago when Texas first passed their concealed carry
law, a jewelry supply house in Dallas sent a notice out to all of
their local customers stating that firearms were prohibited on their
premises. They posted a very prominent sign on their door saying
that “This business is a gun-free zone”. Along with many others (I
found out later), I expressed my dismay and concern that although
they had every right in the world to make such a policy (and that I
would honor it), such a sign and policy, especially in a jewelry
business, could easily be seen as an open invitation to bad guys with
ill intent. It essentially said to them - “Come on in! Bring your
guns, you won’t find any armed opposition here!” The company changed
it’s policy very shortly thereafter.

There are a lot of statistics around that people on both sides can
bring into the discussion to bolster their position, but one
statistic that doesn’t exist is how many crimes have been prevented
or thwarted by the mere presence of a firearm. I own a retail
jewelry store in which I do quite a bit of engraving. Because I do
firearm engraving for hire, I am required to have a Federal Firearms
License (FFL). Any business that does any work on a serial numbered
part of a firearm for money is required to have this license.

There is no doubt in my mind that having that license and the other
posters required by the ATF prominently displayed on the wall has
prevented at least two armed robberies. I know this because in two
separate incidents, shortly after casing our store, bad guys held
someone else up very nearby. One was at knife point just two doors
down at a consignment dress shop in our own shopping center, the
other about a hundred yards away at another jewelry store. In that
one, shots were fired but nothing was stolen and no one was hurt.
The bad guys were arrested several hours later and released the next
morning. Gee, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. And so safe and
secure too!

There may have been many more incidents avoided in my shop that I’ll
never know about, armed robberies occur pretty often around here. One
recent occurrence in a nearby coin shop ended in the untimely death
of the perpetrator. Fortunately, no one else was hurt. In another
early morning incident a couple blocks away from my store, the
manager of a Burger King was shot by a perpetrator after the robbery
had already been completed. The manager did everything by the book,
the bad guy just decided on his way out that the manager needed to
die. So he shot him in the back as he lay face-down on the floor
looking the other way, just as the bad guy had instructed. A police
officer I know surmised that it may have been part of a gang
initiation. It seems that some people can see a blue letter “C” in
the Burger King logo and interpret it as meaning “Crips territory”.

This is what things are coming to. The cops in my neighborhood are
fast, but not nearly as fast as a 9mm hollow point. So I have decided
to be my own first line of defense. Some of my employees are also
well trained and those that wish to carry have my permission, as long
as they are properly licensed to do so. We also do periodic in-store
firearm, defense and security training, given by certified firearm
instructors and law enforcement trainers.

I agree wholeheartedly with the OP. Rights bring with them
responsibilities. If you wish to exercise your Second Amendment right
to bear arms, you must also bear the responsibility of doing so with
100% safety for everyone around you. Training is an absolute
necessity. Not just once in a while, but several times a year.
Shooting and handling firearms, just like engraving, playing a
musical instrument or wax carving is a perishable skill. And the
training should be given by a qualified firearms instructor, not
just by Uncle Bob who has a couple of handguns and a big backyard.

Make no mistake. Deciding to carry a firearm or even just having one
within arms-reach at your shop is no small decision. If you decide to
do so, you need to know what you are doing with it, and maybe even
more importantly, you must be willing to use it if the need arises.
My Drill Sergeant in Basic Training told us that “if you point a
firearm at someone, you better be ready, willing and able to pull the
trigger. If you’re not, better leave it right where it is, because it
might just get you killed if you bring it out without the intent of
using it.”

Maybe it’s a little cliche, but my opinion about my own carrying of a
firearm can be summed up by the movie quote - “I’d rather have a gun
and not need it, than need a gun and not have it.”

Dave Phelps

If you had posed this question a couple of years ago, my response
would have been totally against anyone, including jewelers keeping
guns. However, in view of the current gun violence, robberies, and
killings, I have rethought my position, and now believe it is
absolutely essential that jewelers in particular have some means of

However, I still believe that assault weapons, should be banned. I
know that the law if it is passed, will be difficult to implement,
but something has to be done to keep such weapons of mass
destruction off the streets.


My favorite form of protection is a door buzzer (electronic lock)
that prevents a person from leaving without being buzzed out. 

So, if the robber can’t get out. what happens next?


this is the crux of the issue with carrying a gun. How good an
engraver, jeweler or whatever do you think you would be if you only
practiced a couple of times a year? I am a reasonable shot and have
owned guns since I was 11, I am comfortable handling them. I have
carried a gun as a part of my job while in the service. I am not anti
gun. But shooting on the range or in the field for hunting is not a
close quarters fire fight. Those who expect to possibly be in such a
situation like police officers and military members are generally
required to be in regular training on a tactical range and simulated
combat with blanks or with non-lethal reduced energy cartridges with
dye bullets. All to be able to have the muscle memory and mental
reflexes to actually be competent with a gun in a high stress
situation. If one doesn’t do tactical practice and maintain a high
degree of training then being effective in a fire fight is not a
likely outcome. If one is going to cary a concealed weapon or keep
weapons at hand in the shop you are saying you are ready to exert
deadly force. To me not to train properly and regularly is not being
responsible and if you cannot find the time and money to do this
training I don’t think you should be carrying a gun.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

So, if the robber can't get out. what happens next? 

Well there was one jewelry store in Montreal that the owner had read
too many spy novels…

He had an airlock system where you have to be buzzed trough the
first door then buzzed trough the second one once the first one was
closed. What no one realized is that the floor was hinged with an
electronic release that dumped you into a secure locked closet in the
basement to be collected by the police at their leisure.

Guess what. It worked

PS the idiot who tried to hold up the place broke his leg in the fall

Make no mistake. Deciding to carry a firearm or even just having
one within arms-reach at your shop is no small decision. 

That’s true.

And if your state does have a “Castle doctrine” law, you may go to
prison for life if you shoot and kill a robber.

Paf Dvorak

Well, I will just say we have considered having a gun in the shop.
My partner and I have our concealed carry permits. Still up in the
air on it. Ben

To add a perspective from another country, it is quite common for
robbers to assault their victims when they have shown no resistance
because after all the adrenaline has been pumped around the body,
the robbery was too easy so they let off steam with gratuitous

I used to practise target shooting and was a reservist in the Army
(later became a navy shooting instructor) and kept guns safely at
home. I lived in Brixton at the time of the riots there and on 3
occasions took a firearm out of its gun safe when things got very
close (ie people trying to chop their way through my front door).
The sight of a firearm was enough to cause the would be robbers to
flee. One of these would be robbers reported me to the police and
after they had checked that I was permitted to possess the firearms
merely commented it was a shame I hadnt shot the person because 2
days later he murdered someone by stabbing them with a screwdriver.

On another occasion I was in a friends shop who sold electrcal items
when a gang came in with the obvious intent of robbery- the knives
and clubs were a bit of a giveaway. I was out the back holding an
Armalite which I had been asked to have a look at because it had a
minor malfunction and thought I was out of sight but the leader of
this gang saw me reflected in a mirror and asked the shop owner if we
were ready for them with a shotgun. When John said that I was holding
an Armalite rife they duly left the shop as fast as they came in! My
friend held a RFD (same as a FFL) and no-one ever robbed his shop
even when every other shop and business in Brixton was attacked.
Criminals prefer weak targets and have some sense of self

The firearms laws have changed twice in the UK since then so the
only people with guns are criminals and the police. The police can no
longer practice in their own time so the firearms teams here shoot
about once every month wheras I used to shoot twice a week, more if
training others. Luckily most criminals cant shoot straight
otherwise it would be dangerous to be a police firearms specialist

So, having carried a gun for my country and as a hobby I would like
to be offered a choice to do so if I needed to for other reasons.

Nick Royall

Nick – Interesting read here: [PDF file]


Those who expect to possibly be in such a situation like police
officers and military members are generally required to be in
regular training on a tactical range and simulated combat with
blanks or with non-lethal reduced energy cartridges with dye
bullets. All to be able to have the muscle memory and mental
reflexes to actually be competent with a gun in a high stress

That’s extremely interesting, I’m not pro or anti gun, it’s just not
relevant for for me.

The point about training and practice is something that hadn’t
occurred to me. I thought it was a simple point and shoot, but I’ll
admit my ignorance because I’ve only been to a shooting range once,
and went hunting once for roos (but was more happy to observe the
animals through the scope, so I didn’t shoot any).

Compared to Australia it’s very easy to get a gun in America. Are
there any statutes and regulation requiring training and maintaining
a gun in the States?

Do you see more guns in a jewellery store having a good outcome?

A couple of thoughts on this :-

  1. The gun owner may or may not have adequate close quarter training

  2. The clients in the store may or may not be armed

  3. Injured or killed clients may have a legal claim on the store

Although guns aren’t a problem here, I’m interested in how a person
with experience, such as yourself, would think how a firefight would
go in a jewellery store.

Regards Charles A.