By Dean Weingarten
Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Across the United States, government employees’ right to bear arms while working is being restored. One of the pernicious erosions of the right to bear arms that occurred over the last 50 years is the right of government employees to bear arms while employed. At the start of the progressive era, government employees were considered part of the elite, and could bear arms when and where others could not.
In the first laws adopted by the new state of Oklahoma, statutes were adopted en masse from other states. One of them exempted “public officials” from a ban on carrying weapons, as long as they were carrying them during their official duties, and to and from work. Oklahoma Criminal Code, Section 1802, published in 1921:
Public Officials-Privileged Public officers while in the discharge of their duties or while going from their homes to their place of duty or returning therefrom shall be permitted to carry arms, but at no other time and under no other circumstances.
In Wisconsin, before professional academy training was required for peace officers, the definition of peace officer included city council members, town board members, and county board members. It was an inexpensive way to bolster the number of people armed to keep the peace.
As the professionalization of peace officers swept the country in the 1960’s and 70’s, public officials were removed from the definition. As civil tort law was radicalized to subject more and more people to liability lawsuits, and the carry of weapons was demonized, employee handbooks started sprouting bans on the carry of weapons by government employees.
The restoration of the right to carry in the United States has reversed that trend. In New Mexico, the latest county to remove the ban on employees bearing arms is Eddy County, on April 19th, 2016. From artesianews.com:
The commissioners approved Resolution R-16-28, a Concealed Carry by Employees policy presented by County Manager Rick Rudometkin Tuesday morning after much discussion about gun safety, self-defense, the Second Amendment, and Article II, Section 6, of the New Mexico Constitution.
“More and more agencies are embracing policies that recognize the employee’s individual right to bear arms,” said Rudometkin. “Examples of agencies include Chaves County, Luna County, Otero County, the City of Colorado Springs, and many other agencies around the country.”
According to the Concealed Carry by Employees policy, employees who hold a valid license to carry a concealed weapon (CCW) may carry a concealed weapon in the course of employment, which includes operating vehicles owned by Eddy County. The policy also states that in order to carry a concealed weapon in the course of employment, the employee must notify their supervisor and the county manager in writing that the employee holds a valid CCW license and intends to carry the weapon using the Eddy County form approved for that purpose.
On April 5th, 2016 the City Council of Demorest, Georgia voted to restore the right to bear arms to city employees. From accesswdun.com:
DEMOREST — Demorest officials say they have passed a groundbreaking personnel policy amendment believed to be the first of its kind in Georgia.
Tuesday night, the city council voted unanimously to amend the city’s personnel policy to allow city employees with a valid concealed carry permit to carry their weapons during the workday.
On January 26th, Bedford County in Virginia enacted a very similar policy. From wsls.com:
BEDFORD COUNTY (WSLS 10) – Bedford County employees can now bring guns to work if they have a concealed carry permit.
The board of supervisors voted unanimously to take the restriction out of the employee handbook.
Some government officials see it as an issue of Second Amendment rights. Some see it as a way of increasing safety in the workplace. Others see it as a simple issue of fairness. From WSLS:
“It really brings the employees of the county to the public,” said Skelley. “The public has no prohibition and it would be illegal for the county to prohibit exercising their second amendment rights on county property.”
Wisconsin and Kansas have specifically eliminated the liability of employers if they lift the restrictions on employees exercising their Second Amendment rights. Tennessee has a bill on the way to the Governor’s desk. Texas and Kansas have lifted the restrictions on people carrying concealed guns in their statehouses.
New Mexico, Virginia and Georgia are not the only states where local employees are regaining their rights. We have also seen it in Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan, and Texas.
People with concealed carry permits have grown to nearly 10 percent of the population in some states. The number of states that have restored the right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit has increased to 10.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.