Editor’s note: this story has been updated with more information about the app from its creator.
It’s not a new concept for people to want to support businesses who adhere to a similar belief. As an example, remember Chick-fil-A appreciation day or those who boycotted the fast food restaurant due to its stance on gay marriage?
A relatively new app follows a similar idea. The point of contention? Gun ownership.
The free “Gun Free Zone” app was released last month for Android, Apple and Amazon devices, claiming to identify the “nearest 20 commercial locations, including businesses, churches and schools, as either firearm friendly or gun free.” Establishments are tagged as either one or the other by users.
The purpose of the app, according to its website, is to allow users to “report and find Gun Free Zones throughout the United States.”
“Whether you want to shop in gun free zones as often as possible or avoid them altogether, this app will help you shop, play, and do business with like-minded people,” the website states. As the app’s press release puts it, it lets users “vote with their wallets.”
The app creators say it is not pushing a specific political agenda but is simply providing information. At the time of the press release being issued Monday, creators boasted more than 3,000 people having downloaded it and identifying 10,000 locations. By Friday, the app had more than 11,000 users and up to 25,000 marked locations.
App creator John Peden said in a statement the app would mark “every commercial location in the country […] allowing people to stay compliant with their state’s gun laws and also effectively support or boycott businesses according to which side of the gun coin they are on.”
“Guns are a hot topic and emotions run deep,” app developer and founder Karl Hale said in a statement. “Activists on both sides of the firearms debate want a way to share their opinions and make their voices heard.”
The Daily Herald in Utah reported Gary Sackett with the Utah Gun Violence Prevention Center saying he thinks the app will only serve to show gun activists where they can gather.
“It is not something that is designed to increase public safety if it is to encourage people to head off to the nearest watering hole that might be gun-friendly,” Sackett said.
But the same could be said of the app being used by pro-gun control advocates. The app could identify areas where they might want to protest.
It’s similar in a way to the New York paper that published the names and addresses of legal pistol holders in the area, which drew criticism from gun owners and resulted in backlash against the paper.
Utah business owner Rich Lewis though told WTVR that the app is useful in that it can show where “it’s responsible not to carry a gun.”
Peden, in an email to TheBlaze, explained that an establishment marked as gun-free or gun-friendly is not an official legal designation.
“We only have the votes that are marked by users. If a user sees the No Firearms Allowed sign, they mark the store as such,” he wrote and noted that they don’t verify if a business is marked correctly or not either.
“If the business owner wants to lock the voting on their store, they contact us and provide proof of ownership, and we can lock the vote as either Gun Free, Firearm Friendly, or No Vote,” he continued. “The No Vote is if a business doesn’t want to participate in our app.”
So far, user feedback about the app itself is that it’s an idea people support but that its structure needs to be developed further.
Penden told TheBlaze of some of the updates planned for the app. One of them includes an alert that will signal when a person crosses into a gun free zone or a state that doesn’t allow concealed firearm carrying.
What’s more, he said they plan a future update to include overlaying other metrics on the map, including crime data, closing businesses, property values, vacancy rates and graffiti. These are things that Peden said might add to the picture of showing people the “real effects of a gun free zone.”
“I bet that if we can say, ‘That gun free zone sign in your front window makes it 8 percent more likely your business will shut down’ then the sign will be gone tomorrow morning,” Penden wrote.
Check out the Gun Free Zone app here.
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Featured image via Shutterstock.com.
(H/T: Daily Mail)