A common issue with concealed carry permit holders is deciding whether or not you can/should carry your gun at work. One’s place of employment is typically one of the top 3 places where you spend your time. There are also many issues that can affect other people’s decisions to turn violent (money issues can lead to desperation or anger in some people and situations). While the issue is extremely complex, you can usually boil the issue down to three factors—
- Does the law allow you to carry at work? The law usually leaves that decision up to the employer. However, the law will vary from state to state on the amount of freedom left to the employer and how strict the punishment will be for failure to comply. For example, in some states parking lots are specifically mentioned in the law to allow employees to leave a firearm in their car, while the building itself is left up to the employer. Obviously, in some areas, the law outright bans concealed carry at work by means of restrictive laws in general. OSHA, the government agency that regulates workplace safety offer some general safety guidelines, but defers to local, state, and federal laws for issues specifically regarding firearms. There are also companies that offer OSHA trainings regarding general workplace safety and other more specific issues involving safety at work.
- The next issue is whether or not your employer will allow you to carry your gun. Most bigger companies often will have a fairly comprehensive policy guidebook that addresses this issue. My personal opinion is that many of these companies restrict firearms because of policy either a founded in ignorance about guns or ignorance about the laws and understanding regarding the responsibility for use of guns. There are, however, companies and places of employment that have an understanding on the issue and intentionally restrict the possession of firearms based on their belief that it will make the workplace safer or simply reduce the stress and issues that they will encounter. I was formerly employed at a company that restricted firearms from their premises where I personally heard the Chief Counsel for the company state that they would never enforce the policy because the owners and executives at the company all had a positive attitude towards firearms and frequently possessed them on the premises themselves. The handbook at the company also specifically restricts firearms in parking lots, where state law specifically requires companies to allow guns to be locked in your vehicles in the parking lots. Essentially, the policy was in place in the event that there was an incident the company could claim that according to the company handbook firearms were prohibited and if that policy was followed, the “incident” would not have happened. This seems to be common in the corporate world. Keep in mind as an employer, however, that some states may have different feelings in that regard. If someone is injured or killed and were prohibited from being in possession of a firearm that may have helped them the company could hold some liability. This is always a tricky issue for businesses (especially a business where customers are present) because it may drive away business regardless of what your stance is. In Wisconsin, businesses are facing the issue of deciding how they want to proceed now that concealed carry has been passed into law.
- The third aspect to this decision is whether or not you can conveniently or socially carry a gun at your place of employment. While a concealed gun should not be noticed, there are sometimes circumstances where it may be seen or put you in a difficult situation. Whether you are simply bending down to pick something up and your shirt lifts up just enough to see your pistol, or if you exercise at work and need to adjust or remove your firearm, or carpool to a place where you cannot carry your gun, to the event that you may actually need to use it, there are circumstances where you may expose your firearm. Additionally, the security and risk of your place of employment needs to be considered. If you work in a building with armed guards, metal detectors and other security measures, the decision process is different than if you work as a pizza delivery man.
There are other issues that may need to be considered that are usually specific to your circumstances, but these are the big three that usually come up when looking at the decision of whether or not to carry a gun at work. Unfortunately, it is more than a personal decision that and has several complex factors that need to be considered and is often made difficult because of a lack of understanding and fear. But as we continue to work with employers and lawmakers we can make a difference in the attitude and laws regarding guns in the workplace.