Thursday, August 19, 2010 11:59 AM CDT
CHAPPELL HILL Any would-be robbers looking to walk into the bank here had best think twice.
Theres a new sign in town.
About a month ago, Chappell Hill Bank president Edward Smith looked at a sign on the front door prohibiting concealed weapons from his business and decided to make a policy change.
Licensed to carry a handgun? Come on in, and bring your weapon.
The sign, now prominently displayed on the banks front door, says, Lawful concealed carry permitted on these premises. Management recognizes the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as an inalienable right of all citizens. We therefore support and encourage the carrying of licensed concealed weapons.
Smith said he made the policy change to send a warning to potential robbers, and also to express support to Americans right to bear arms.
We had the sign on the window, the red circle with the pistol inside and a line through it. And I started thinking, Weve got this no gun sign up and the guy (robber) can come in and do what he wants.
But if youve got a policy allowing handguns, he wont know how many people are going to be in here carrying a concealed weapon. There may be some little old lady whos mad at the government, and shed love to use it, he said.
The bank has been robbed twice in the last three years, including last March when a Western-attired man walked in, ordered bank employees to fill a canvas bag with money and then fled in a pickup truck. The man, who did not brandish a weapon, has not been caught.
The sign has made Chappell Hill Bank and Smith somewhat of an Internet sensation.
A photo of the sign has made its way around the world, and Smith has even been interviewed for the National Rifle Associations radio network (NRA News). Hes also been contacted by other media outlets wanting to do stories.
Its kind of gotten a life of its own, he said.
Expressions of support have far outnumbered criticism.
Smith been contacted by officials from larger banks considering to take similar action, and has received e-mails in support from across the United States and even from England , Canada and Germany .
I havent gotten any from Chicago or California , which doesnt surprise me, Smith said with a laugh. We did get a real nice e-mail from an 88-year-old World War II veteran who said its about time somebody stood up in this country.
The NRA has even invited him to speak at an upcoming convention, but Smith said, Im still deciding on that.
Smith said hes only received one negative e-mail, from an anonymous sender.
The policy change has also brought Chappell Hill Bank a handful of new customers and comments from people outside Washington County that theyd bank there if they lived here, said Smith.
I tell them that were a full-service bank and were on the Internet. They can bank online, he said.