Is Your Gun Shop ADA Compliant?

Complying with ADA regulations isn’t just a requirement — it’s an opportunity.

Is Your Gun Shop ADA Compliant?

As a business owner, you have many things to worry about. First, there are expenses like rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, payroll, and, that one thing that is certain along with death, your annual income taxes.

If there weren’t already enough things to be concerned with in your business, there is one thing that many people don’t give too much thought to: running your business in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA has many different implications on small businesses, including the requirement that they provide equal access to people with disabilities. Even if you are not a business owner, it can still be a good idea to learn more about the ADA and its implications.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that “prohibits disability discrimination in various settings including housing, employment, education, and public accommodations; it prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities, such as buying an item at the store, watching a movie in a theater, enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, exercising at the local gym, or having the car serviced at a garage.” To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements for private businesses of all sizes. These requirements first went into effect on January 26, 1992.

In recognition that many small businesses cannot afford to make significant physical changes to their stores or places of business to provide accessibility to wheelchair users and other people with disabilities, the ADA has requirements for existing facilities built before 1993 that are less strict than for ones built after early 1993 or modified after early 1992.

Why is the ADA important for small businesses? The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a law that every small business owner should take note of because it is important for business growth. It is important not just for your legal compliance, but can also be an opportunity for business growth. More on that later.

What does the ADA require? While the ADA does not require small businesses to provide access to their establishments, the ADA does require those that are accessible to be accessible to people with disabilities. This means that they need to be in compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

What accommodations must be made for people with disabilities? The Americans with Disabilities Act is applicable to all businesses with 15 or more employees. There are basically three types of accommodations that must be made for people with disabilities.

1. Making the physical structure of the business accessible

2. Making the services available to people with disabilities

3. Making the work environment accessible

The ADA also gives people with disabilities the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if they feel they have been discriminated against.

The ADA has implications for both small and large businesses, and that likely includes yours. One of the most significant impacts is that many small businesses will be required to retrofit and make modifications to their facilities to make them accessible to people with disabilities. This can be of special concern if your location is in an older building and can be further complicated by anything that has a “historical” designation. Required modifications, even under the aforementioned less-strict requirements, can cost small businesses a considerable amount of money. In addition, it can take a considerable amount of time for these changes to be made. Of special concern is the portion of the bill that requires business owners to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow persons with disabilities to patronize and utilize their business and its facilities. The problem, of course, is who defines “reasonable,” and, more importantly, what exactly that definition of “reasonable” is.

Perhaps some of the best advice I could give you is to find a specialized consultant or business that deals specifically with businesses and compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. A simple internet search will quickly reveal hundreds of options. You may want to contact your local Chamber of Commerce, or even other business owners, that you know in the area for their recommendations as well. The following recommendations are also helpful, but are in no way a complete list, nor are they the sole obligations you have under the ADA.

Make sure you have entrances/exits that are accessible to people that cannot climb stairs, such as the elderly or people who utilize wheelchairs or scooters. Make sure any areas accessible to the public in your business. Have enough room for someone in a wheelchair or scooter to operate through and around these public areas.

Look at your displays, and ensure that the majority of products are within reach of someone in a wheelchair or scooter. If you have public restrooms, you will need to make sure that they are also handicapped/disabled accessible.


An Often Overlooked Opportunity

The disabled market is an oft-overlooked target for business owners, but prioritizing individuals with different abilities in your business and marketing plan can have benefits to your business. For example, shooting is one of the most equalized sports and recreational pastimes. A 100-pound woman can compete on the same level as a 250-pound man. There are no advantages to being tall or short, strong or weak, or even disabled or non-disabled. Marketing to the differently-abled market is not a typical business strategy, but many individuals with different abilities are actively looking for activities and locations to participate in those activities. For example, if you have a shooting or archery range, it would be well worth your effort to reach out to one of the many different organizations that support the physical and mentally challenged to design, recruit and promote your business and/or event as an excellent place to recreate that’s ADA accessible. Don’t have a range at your location? This is a great time to partner with another business that does, such as a public firearms or archery range or even a restaurant or other business that can benefit from the same target customers as yours. Something as simple as offering members of these organizations a special discount code or even a special shopping day can benefit your bottom line as well. Recruiting a customer with a different ability can also extend participation and, subsequently, the purchase of firearms, archery gear, and thousands of items and consumables like ammunition and accessories to their family and friends.

Finally, there is the benefit of good press and goodwill in the community. Don’t forget to contact your local, regional and even national press to cover your events. They are often looking for “good news” to publish, as they benefit from the same views, clicks and interactions from the community as you do.

At the very least, make sure that you publish and promote these activities and events on your social media pages and through your content marketing strategies.

The ADA is both a requirement and an opportunity for you and your business. By acting on some of the recommendations in this article, you can utilize it to be more “benefit” and less “requirement.”


Helpful Information Sources

Special Olympics:

International Disability Alliance:

The Autism Society:

The National Spinal Cord Injury Association:

American Foundation for the Blind:

ADA Website:


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