(WHNT) - Gun control versus gun owner rights. It's a heated debate that has split the nation and even some households. And now, there's an app for that.
It started out as one man's frustration over his concerns on Second Amendment rights. However, it's quickly morphed into a nationwide project that lets you, the consumer, weigh in with your wallet.
"That's how it started. I was going to fight back against gun control," said John Peden.
Gun friendly or gun free? Peden says the seeds for that question were planted the day a New York newspaper decided to publish the names and addresses of legally registered gun owners.
"I'm a pro-firearm guy and I didn't like that," said Peden.
But instead of going political, Peden decided the power of the pursestring was the way to fight back. What if a database could show gun owners nearby businesses that welcomed both them and their firearms inside? Three months and 24,000 users later, Peden's idea is flourishing through a smart phone app called "Gun Free Zone".
"We realized that if we gather good data, real useful data, then we might be able to change the gun control debate," said Peden. "This really is, I think, the next wave of political power."
Peden manages the Gun Free Zone app out of his Utah home with the help of two fellow programmers. Through the use of Google map technology, users can report whether businesses in their hometown are gun friendly or gun free by visiting in person. Once they verify and tag a status, it goes into the app's database, allowing potential shoppers to see if the business they want to patronize will allow their guns as well.
"They like voting with your wallets, and this app is a way to do that," said Peden. "Later on we'll be able to get other data on top of it -- things like crime stats, or graffiti, or property values, and then you can educate people on what is the real effect of a gun-free zone on your life. Not what does one side or the other say."
An app this new still has a lot of ground to cover, and that's certainly the case here in greater Huntsville. The Corner Store here on Drake Avenue is the only business we could find that has been tagged so far, and according to the app, it is gun friendly. The owners declined to speak on camera, but Peden says the overwhelming response from business owners nationwide has been positive.
"By you tagging that store, the business owner loves it, because you're getting their message out," said Peden.
The app's creators say it's not just for gun lovers.
"Piers Morgan, noted anti-gun news personality -- there's no reason he can't use my app to shop in every gun-free zone that he wants, and then Ted Nugent, the pro-firearm guy, he could use it to shop in pro-firearm stores," said Peden.
Two causes for one app that could be a game changer in the ongoing gun control debate.