Eagle, Idaho – -(Ammoland.com)- Every day, millions of Americans are disarmed as they go to work.
Some work locations, such as military bases and schools, are governed by “public safety” laws and policies, which allow only members of elite statuses, such as security guards, on-duty law enforcement, or politicians, to carry a firearm.
Other locations are governed by the policies of private business owners who may be afraid of the liability of allowing their employees to carry guns to work and instead, implement their own, fear-based “gun free” work place policies.
My law firm not only supports employees carrying guns to work, we reward employees by paying the cost for them to take defensive firearms training. I implemented this policy because I have been personally subjected to these gun free zone laws and policies when I was an employee. Most courthouses do not allow firearms except in the hands of on-duty law enforcement officers. Most prosecutors have offices in the county courthouse. While I served as a prosecutor, I made enemies of the sociopaths I took off the street. Most sociopaths make their way back to the street, usually sooner than they should.
During this time, I was supposed to depend on others to protect me, even when leaving work alone at night and walking to my car. I vowed to never put my own employees in the same position.
Federal law does not regulate guns at private workplaces. Even though nearly two million Americans report being the victims of workplace violence each year, our Supreme Court has not yet provided us with specific guidance on whether disarming Americans while they work, and on their way to work, is unconstitutional. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published works available to employers in a supposed effort to guide them on a path to prevent workplace violence. These publications are full of “tips” for employers to address violence against social workers, late-night retailers, taxi-drivers, and other high-risk groups of employees.
If these publications were not so sad, they would be comical in their complete absence of any suggestion that employees carry a firearm for self-protection. Fortunately, there is a movement by state governments to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights while they work.
Guns at Work
The movement to protect employees began in Oklahoma, and laws now exist in at least 15 states across the country, protecting employees in various ways. These state laws sprung up initially to prevent the egregious policies of some business owners, which prevented employees from storing firearms locked in a vehicle parked in a company parking lot. These “parking lot” policies not only disarm workers while at work, they disarm them on their travel to and from work. Unfortunately, such policies are still lawful in most states across the country, but again, thanks to gun owners who are willing to make an effort and pro-Second Amendment organizations, the wheels are in motion to eliminate them.
The state laws that have been enacted differ in what and how they protect employees, but the following are some of the issues the laws address:
• Protect employees’ rights to store firearms in their private vehicles even when parked in the employer’s parking lot.
• Limit an employer’s ability to search vehicles on its property.
• Prohibit discrimination against gun owners.
• Subject an employer to fines for failure to comply with the law’s restrictions or requirements.
• Provide protection to employers that comply with pro-Second Amendment laws, including immunity from injuries arising out of compliance.
• Specify that employers can allow weapons at the workplace without violating the OSHA general duty to provide a safe work environment clause.
What are employers afraid of? Being sued is a big concern. If guns are not banned, and the employer hires the wrong person, a victim of gun violence might sue the employer for not preventing the violence. This type of a claim would be hard for a victim to prove against an employer, and on top of it, simply having a policy that bans guns at the workplace without a mechanism for enforcing the policy does little to protect an employer. A violent employee will carry out his or her intentions with or without a firearm. Hiring procedures that include a psychological exam and a thorough background check on prospective employees are much better preventative measures.
Yet, most employers (even those who do not allow firearms) fail to implement these two simple mechanisms to prevent workplace violence.
Advice for Employers
Our firm regularly prepares employee handbooks that include policies against violence that are protective of employers while allowing employees to carry their firearms to work. If you are an employer and would like to implement such a policy, here are a few
1. Screen your employees before you hire them, and always, always, conduct a thorough background check. A safe workplace begins with the hiring process.
2. Set requirements for training—if your state laws allow you to do so. At a minimum, require that your employees have a state concealed carry permit, which means they have passed a background check conducted by law enforcement.
3. Establish requirements for storage and control of the firearm. Leaving a firearm unattended inside the workplace where it is accessible to others is grounds for termination without discussion.
4. Ensure that employees have read your firearms policy and have had an opportunity to ask questions.
5. If not prohibited by your state’s law, implement a reporting system for employees who carry. Employees should at least annually update you with proof of their training. They should also at least annually sign a declaration stating they are not a prohibited person under state or federal law.
6. Have a self-reporting policy that requires employees to report immediately to their supervisor if they become a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
7. Make sure you have a procedure for other employees to report threats of violence.
Expanded discussion on these tips and more, are available in my new book “Infringed”. Infringed explains how local, state, and federal laws interact and conflict, and how to understand what to do or refrain from doing so as not to get trapped in the quagmire that is American gun law by digging in deep to all aspects of gun law and gun ownership.
Infringed is available for purchase at www.alexkincaid.com, and on Amazon, and is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle formats.
Order your copy of Infringed by Alexandria Kincaid on Amazon : http://tiny.cc/j11s8x