Guns in the Workplace

 

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—

      1. 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.
      2. 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.
      3. 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.

      Comments

      1. I am self-employed so I make my own rules. I carry at work everyday. The only policy I have with my employees is that they have to get a CCW permit and sufficient training if they want to bring their gun to work. If they go to the trouble of getting the permit and training, I welcome them to carry at work.

      2. I am self-employed so I make my own rules. I carry at work everyday. The only policy I have with my employees is that they have to get a CCW permit and sufficient training if they want to bring their gun to work. If they go to the trouble of getting the permit and training, I welcome them to carry at work.

      3. After an incident where one employee pulled a gun on another employee, my last employer banned firearms. For 8 years I made sure I deep concealed and never thought twice about it.

      4. After an incident where one employee pulled a gun on another employee, my last employer banned firearms. For 8 years I made sure I deep concealed and never thought twice about it.

      5. I just received my CFP, and I’m facing this exact issue. My employer has a very explicit policy prohibiting any weapons in the building or in “parking provided by” the employer. We share a huge parking lot with a number of other businesses as part of a business park, so I’m debating whether the rule applies in my location. My guess is that the employer would say yes, it does apply.

        One of the large TV and radio stations in our area had an incident where a cooky lady walked in one afternoon and started shooting people on site. She made it quite a ways into the building before the police arrived and subdued her. Unfortunately, people lost their lives or were injured. Had that business had one concealed carrier that day, several people would not have died. By advertising a No Guns Allowed policy businesses are creating uninhibited playgrounds for the unstable (as in this case), the criminally violent, and potential thieves. Guess what the news for that station focused on after the event? Hw tragic it was that this obviously disturbed person was able to get a handgun. Will people ever learn that anyone, anywhere, if they are determined, can get a weapon?

        I’m torn between obeying the implied ban against weapons on campus with the thought that some day I might have to try to prevent another tragedy like this one.

      6. GeorgiaJeff says:

        I do not allow an employer to make life and death decisions for me. If they force the issue I will do what I think I have to do. I will take the chance of being ‘caught carrying’ rather than be ‘caught bringing a knife to a gunfight’.

      7. John Greene says:

        If you carry at a work place with a no firearms policy and get caught and fired, will you be “Black Listed” for employment at another job? Can and will they tell them why you were fired? Will it make getting another job difficult or impossible? Thats my delimma I need to work but I also need to be able to protect myself. I am a truck driver and my employer is not going to protect me in the dark alleys of Toledo,OH. at 3:00am while I deliver their products to the customers in some of the worst areas in the city. So what do I do, get a less dangerous job? or carry anyway?

        • You carry anyway. In the rare instance that could possibly face an armed agressor, your life and the lives of others are more important than your job. I would rather be “caught carrying”, than caught dead!

      8. There are effective alternatives to firearms such as pepper spray, Tasers and alarms.
        The first two will actually take out one or more targets and can prevent you from further harm.
        personal Alarms can be useful to make a racket, draw attention off of you but on your situation, possibly allowing you to escape or find a weapon.

      9. I work at a large national retail chain where employees are expressly prohibited from carrying firearms. The decision I made (2 years ago) was to carry anyway and I do so every day. Two of my coworkers even know and they’re happy about it because we don’t have armed security (except me). I have to do what I know to be right. If negative consequences result, so be it. No one tells me I have to be a defenseless potential victim in order to earn a living.

      10. IMHO, the law is the law. You either follow it or you dont. As far as work, same rule apllies. You either follw the rules or you dont. You are free to not be in the place where you dont agree with their rules. I also agree that you must do what you need to do to be safe. Better judged by 12 kinda thing, but rest assured, judged you will be. But I hope everyone carrying concealed understands the responsibility and that it is not ever enough to simply carry that weapon. I do every day, no matter where. I also practice constantly, dry fre, live fire, drawing from concealed, getting up on those sights. Before you make the choice to carry it, ask yourself, are you ready to use it? Are you proficient enough to not be a liability or make a bad situation worse? Rapid action drills? Have you practived and trained in target aquisition? Be prepared, and be safe out there… X

      11. I’m self employed and carry at work but what does OSHA say about employees at work and carry. I live in Washington

      12. Billy, from what I can remember there was a request to OSHA in 05-06 to request a policy on banning guns but I don’t think a lot came of it. You can always talk with the supervisor / HR of that workplace, however you will be “outed” then, so keep that in mind.

      13. Can I carry a firearm in my car on my workplace if they say no we cant in our handbook? I live in Illinois. I never had a gun in my truck yet I got terminated they say after 9 years of giving false information which I tried to explain to Michaels but they wouldn’t give me a chance the police never found a weapon when they searched my bag or my truck. I strongly think I was Wrongfully Terminated!!!!!!!!!!

        • If you do not have a Conceal Carry in Illinois, which you do not, because they have not issued the first one yet. You will have to go off of the restrictions specified in the Vague law that exists. CC is new in Illinois, and there is not Case Law on the books yet to define the law for us.

          I am not a Lawyer, but I took the class, with Lawyers. They are getting the CCL, but may not begin to carry until there is Case Law to define the law better. What does that tell you about the Illinois Law? It tells me carry at your own risk, and have a good Lawyer on speed dial.

      14. I was wondering if anyone would be able to provide some insight on females concealed carrying at work. I currently conceal carry every day at work, though my employee handbook says not to. My gun is in my purse, which I keep in a drawer at my desk; I lock the drawer if I have to walk away for any reason. My employee handbook states that I am technically not allowed to have a gun on any property (building or parking lot), however, a friend of mine mentioned in the state of Arizona, though an employer may mention that they prohibit weapons in their parking lots, that if it’s a public parking lot, as long as it’s locked in the car, you should be allowed to carry. My office is in a terrible part of town, and I am typically one of the last to leave in the evening. I have been approached by people after work when I’m trying to get to my car, and feel it’s unsafe for me to leave my gun in my car, in case I might need to get to it! Do any other women carry at work in an office setting? If so, how do you do it? I would prefer to have the gun on my body, but it’s not really an ideal situation in my office, and I feel that having my purse in a drawer makes for less suspicious employees.

        • I’m not a woman but that shouldn’t matter for this. Ideally, you want to have your gun on your body. Having it on your body means – you always know where it is, and other people have the least chance of finding it, as long as you properly conceal it. Leaving it in your purse means it is not always on you, you may not have it when you need it, and a higher chance of someone finding it. I know you say you lock it in a drawer, but most of those locks are not very sturdy and rather generic, meaning a number of keys may actually fit. If I were you, I would look into carrying it on you. Now I don’t know if you have to wear a dress at work or pants, and I have never looked at ways to carry specific to women but I do know that you can get a belly band or a waist belt with a front pouch for deep concealment. Takes a little longer to get to than a jacket pocket or tucked behind your belt, but these are just things to consider.

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