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Workplace / School Violence

Should I Allow My Employees to Carry a Firearm at Work?

Should I Allow My Employees to Carry a Firearm at Work, School, Church, etc.?

Here is the answer from my non-attorney opinion.

This is an extremely common question that we are asked, at minimum, once time each week while we are training our clients. And it is a both a fair and obvious question as well. Employers all have an interest in keeping their employees safe. In many cases, their employees are also their families. Incidentally, this is also a question that has been debated within educational institutions for quite some time. And further, churches and other faith-based organizations also debate this question.

While this is a very difficult question to answer and one that requires a tremendous amount of thought there are numerous factors that need to be considered in your ultimate decision. I will tell you very clearly that my opinion is - NO! And itís a pretty emphatic NO! And itís not because I am anti-gun or donít support the Second Amendment! Its because our purpose is to protect our clients from danger, which includes liability.

Here is the problem:

The moment you encourage or allow firearms in the workplace is the moment that you become completely liable for any injuries and/or deaths that may occur as a result of adopting such a policy. You also become completely responsible for training your employees on the use of and proficiency with that firearm. And this is not simply making certain that they can shoot accurately and proficiently! Itís as much about decision-making AND shooting proficiently under high stress conditions.

Think about this:

Is it impressive to see someone at a shooting range picking up their firearm off a table, setting themselves, taking their time to aim, and then slowly and calmly pulling the trigger to the result of this tiny little hole in their target? Typically, most would stand in awe of the tremendously talented shooter who can produce such a result. Think about this however:

Is this truly an extraordinary feat?

I would argue that itís not only not an extraordinary feat, but thatís itís not all that impressive at all! There are many, many people who can do this under such circumstances that are planned and known! I say this during our Surviving an Incident of Violence course:

There is a HUGE difference between planned and unplanned!

There is a HUGE difference between calm and stress!

Trust me, those impressive targets will become an absolute mess to include many shots not hitting it at all! You will have errant shots and stray bullets! I see this on a regular basis.

Now think about the scrutiny a Police Officer comes under with the public when they accidently shoot an uninvolved person as a result of an errant round. Allowing employees to carry firearms at work places the responsibility for this risk on you.

Now letís consider the decision-making aspect of this question. Being proficient with a firearm is an imperative part of responsibility. You can, however, have the most proficient operator of a firearm that just makes bad decisions on when and how to use it and innocent people die as a result of these decisions. As an employer that allows employees to be armed, who do you think will end up with the responsibility for poor decisions?

Making good decisions in fractions of a second to save your own life is difficult enough to master. Making good decisions in fractions of a second and then performing proficiently with a firearm is a whole new problem that takes a tremendous amount of training. As Police Officers, tasked with this unbelievably challenging and important responsibility, we train constantly, month-after-month and year-after-year. And we are tested constantly. This takes a significant amount of time and there is a huge expense associated with it. The costs, time and effort to provide the appropriate training to your employees, and the additional cost to test them regularly is not something most businesses can endure. This is the reason why contract security and police details are so widely used. Contract Security, by the way, is another issue that you must examine and be well-aware of before deciding to use such firms.

And again, think about how police officers are crucified by the public when they are perceived to have made a bad decision. Unfortunately, a bad decision will likely be judged by, and placed in the hands of, people who have no idea what it is like to be in such a position. I always wonder how itís even possible for a police officer to get a ďjury of his/her peersĒ when being judged for a ďbad shootĒ unless all of those on the jury have been in a similar position and/or have had occasion to make a life or death decision in fractions of a second under highly stressful circumstances.

I have seen employers who have allowed employees to bring a firearm to work at specific times and under specific circumstances that have posed a threat to the business (terminated, angry employee). When we spoke to the ďgun-totingĒ employee we were appalled by their general attitude, but more so by their misunderstanding about how they could use that firearm and under what circumstances.

So, there are a few things that you must think about before allowing, or encouraging, concealed carry by your employees at work, school, church, etc.

I am telling you from experience that the responsibility of carrying a weapon capable of producing serious injury or death is huge! Remember, a firearm is a tool that requires extremely high levels of proficiency and incredible decision-making skills all while under highly stressful situations. It is very, very difficult to master this if possible at all.

So, What Can We Do?

- Train your employees to make good decisions in fractions of a second!

- Create a culture of vigilance and awareness!

- Secure your physical worksite!

- Check Your Policies and Procedures and make sure that they will truly work when reality strikes.

- Make sure your employees know your policies and procedures and carry them out all day, every day.

Think about having a few well-trained employees armed with a firearm during an incident of violence compared with far more well-trained employees armed with a knife and/or trained and prepared to react immediately utilizing a knife or other weapon of opportunity during such an attack. Which do you think would crush an attack more quickly? I can tell you that a firearm would be not needed in most cases.

My Ultimate Advice?

Donít take my advice! Use this information as a consideration and talking point for conversation with your attorney. We do not give legal advice as we are not attorneys.

Published Nov 26, 2016

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