Unfortunately, in today’s society, there are times you may be confronted with violence at work, as illustrated by incidents such as the on-air shooting of reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward, the San Bernardino shooting and the Orlando nightclub shooting. An average of 551 workers a year are killed as a result of workplace-related homicides, according to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, 78 percent of these homicides involved shootings. The risk of being shot at work raises the question of how concealed carry policy should be applied in the workplace. While gun control advocates may reject the idea that concealed carry has a place at work, preppers know that concealed carry may be your best defense against a disgruntled and armed employee or customer. If you’re considering implementing a concealed carry policy at your workplace, here are some guidelines for pursuing your policy safely.
Check Your State Laws
The first thing to do is check your state laws in consultation with your company’s legal team, since laws regarding concealed carry and an employer’s legal right to determine concealed carry policy vary by state. State laws seek to balance a citizen’s constitutional right to bear arms with an employer’s right to control policy on private property and their responsibility under OHSA to maintain a safe workplace environment. Some states prohibit retaliation against gun owners for bearing arms and limit an employer’s right to search employee vehicles. Others allow an employer to prohibit guns if they post certain notices.
As of June 2015, employers in Maryland were allowed to restrict concealed carry in parking lots and on premises, while those in California were not, and those in Florida were allowed to restrict concealed carry on premises but not in parking lots. Some states also allow exceptions to these rules. For instance, Utah allows employers to restrict concealed carry in parking lots and on premises, but there is an exception for federal and state workers.
Check to see what legal options are available to you under your state laws for determining your company concealed carry policy. Knowing your state’s laws can help you in formulating your policy by letting you know what options are legally excluded.
Consider Your Corporate Culture
Beyond legal considerations, your concealed carry policy towards your employees can also impact your brand reputation with your customers, points out the Society for Human Resource Management. One key issue that impacts your brand is whether the same policy you apply to your employees also applies to your customers. For instance, Starbucks has drawn criticism for asking customers not to bring guns into their stores even if they have a concealed carry permit. Similarly, businesses can draw criticism for restricting self-defense rights of employees.
Apart from concerns about criticism, there is the more fundamental issue of how your gun policy aligns with your corporate culture. How do your company’s vision, values and mission statement inform your gun policy? For instance, consider your company’s overall policy toward your employees and customers, and develop a gun policy that embodies this stance, communicating how allowing concealed carry advances the safety and well-being of your employees and customers.
Who Can Conceal Carry Guns?
The question of whether your gun policy towards your employees extends to your customers broaches the broader question of who can carry guns under your corporate policy. What about part-time employees? Independent contractors? Hired security personnel? Visitors? Are any categories of workers required to undergo any type of safety training to be allowed to carry guns at your business? Will you run any background checks on employees and contractors who may be carrying guns to ensure that you meet OHSA standards for maintaining a safe working environment? Also consider how you will handle employees who have been recently terminated or otherwise involved in workplace confrontations and may have guns on their person or in their vehicles as they are exiting the building in a bad mood.
Where Are Guns Allowed?
Another issue your policy should address is where guns are allowed. As noted, some states have different restrictions for parking lots and premises. Additionally, there may be areas of your premises that are not entirely owned by you and may be shared with adjacent businesses. Within the legal guidelines of your state laws, you should develop policies that clarify what is allowed in each of the areas of your workplace. This will enable you to respond to employees who ask where they can store their guns.
What Kind of Guns are Allowed?
Another question to consider is what kinds of guns and gun supplies are allowed, suggests workplace law firm Fisher Phillips. For instance, definitions of “assault weapons” vary from state to state, which has contributed to media and public confusion over this term. Clarifying what types of weapons fall under your gun policy can help you if you become embroiled in a public relations battle over an incident at your workplace. Likewise, you may want your policy to clarify your stance towards semi-automatic versus automatic weapons. If deer hunting is popular in your area, you might also want to lay out a policy for rifles. Similar considerations hold for ammunition and accessories for different categories of weapons that fall under your policy.
What about Other Weapons and Dangerous Objects?
Some company gun policies also address the use of other weapons and potential weapons. For instance, knives can be classified as weapons in some contexts, but if your business is a restaurant, you obviously need certain types of knives to operate. Other objects such as boxcutters are not designed as weapons but can be used as such. You may wish to consider how your gun policy addresses these.
Notifying Employees of Your Policy
After developing your policy, it’s also essential to make sure your policy is communicated to your staff and other relevant personnel. Develop training procedures to make sure that your staff is aware of your policy. Ideally, these should be part of broader training in workplace violence policy and management. If you require any firearm safety procedure training, include this in your policy. Check your state’s policy for your obligation to post signs and make sure you are in compliance with these requirements.