Emerging Issues in Security

Employees with CCW Permits at Work

More state governors are signing legislation allowing employees who hold a valid a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit to bring their guns to work, college campuses, and even K–12 schools in some rare instances. These new state laws can clash with company policies about firearms on the property.

concealed carry gun

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At least 23 states have passed legislation that allows employees to bring their firearms to work, usually if they hold a valid CCW permit and their employer allows it inside the building. By contrast, most company policies will grudgingly allow firearms in their employee parking lots but not inside the facility. This collision of citizens/employee rights versus the rights of a company to create its own response, has predictably led to anger and several lawsuits from all sides.

Employees with CCWs say the rigors of the CCW permit process, along with their training and possession of their firearms at work makes a workplace violence incident or mass attack less likely, because a potential perpetrator would know they are armed and can defend themselves. Employers counter this by asking, “How do you prove a negative?” meaning it’s impossible to measure that type of deterrence value.

Companies have significant worries about the many liability issues attached to allowing employees to bring their guns to work: theft of the weapon from the employee’s desk, backpack, or briefcase; accidental discharges; horseplay and displaying the weapon in an unsafe manner around coworkers; domestic violence between dating employees, which may lead to lethal violence from a firearm either has on-site; and the built-in intimidation factor that a manager, supervisor, or coworker might feel when arguing with a subordinate or coworker known to be armed.

And companies have legitimate concerns about whether armed employees have the skills and tactical mind set to actually shoot a mass attacker, as opposed to following the run-hide-fight active shooter protocol and waiting for the arrival of trained law enforcement, who are already mentally prepared and tactically ready to engage. Company attorneys see the firm as liable if armed employees act or fail to act, without waiting for the police, or cause a wrongful death suit by shooting the wrong person or missing the attacker and hitting someone else.

HR and Security professionals agree that for any firm to allow firearms inside their facilities, these minimum standards will have to be in place: preferred program status for retired military personnel or law enforcement officers (they can be part of an initial pilot program of employees who have volunteered to be armed); proof of a valid CCW permit; proof of gun ownership and annual or semiannual firearms proficiency; an annual medical and psychological evaluation by a physician and a mental health clinician; a current police background check; a company registration program, to know who is armed and with what; locked employee firearm storage areas, with limited access; armed security officers at the site as well; and workplace violence awareness training for all employees.