Puffing on a Padron at Heroes & Legacies, the guys started talking about carrying illegally. No one would admit it publicly, but it was clear I wasn’t the only one who may or may not have carried a firearm where it was illegal to do so. Specifically (or not), CNN Headline News . . .
CNN’s younger, pacier sib started life in a cinder block building with no windows. There was one way in and one way out. But there were plenty of ways into the rest of Massa Turner’s electronic plantation on Techwood Drive. And the security guard at the employees’ entrance was as situationally aware as a narcoleptic can be. To paraphrase the gyro captain in Mad Max II, a smart man might have a weapon hidden while working there.
Then again . . .
I couldn’t have afforded to lose my job at CNN – despite the minimum wage pay. I’d moved from Boston to Atlanta for CNN. If Ted’s coke-sniffing execs had turfed me, my nascent media career would have pulled up to the bumpers, baby. So I didn’t carry a concealed weapon while panning camera number two left and right two inches for eight hours a day during 10-day shifts. Did I?
Fast-forward to today and I’m the proverbial blogger-in-his-pajamas. A guy who can strap on a gun in the morning and wear it all day, anywhere and everywhere – save those places where I can’t (e.g., my daughter’s school, the U.S. Post Office and bars with a 51% sign or businesses with a 30.06 sign). But I remember what it was like to work in a so-called gun-free zone, and I wonder how many People of The Gun secretly pack heat.
The reserve sheriff who shot an Islamic terrorist in Oklahoma City – after the bad guy killed and beheaded Colleen Hufford – worked in a gun-friendly environment. For him anyway. DGU hero Mark Vaughan is the Chief Operating Officer of Vaughan Foods, where the terrorist attacked. But what if it wasn’t? What if Vaughan Foods had been a so-called gun-free zone?
Perhaps Vaughan or one of his other employees would have been able to stop Alton Nolen with an improvised weapon of some sort. Perhaps not. And while we’re playing this game, what if Nolen had come armed with a handgun, rifle or shotgun, rather than just a blade? That would have been a much bigger, not to say bloodier problem for the food processing plant’s disarmed workforce. Unless someone wasn’t as disarmed as his or her gun-averse employer wanted them to be.
I understand the importance, indeed sanctity of property rights in common law. But practically speaking, U.S. employers can’t ban people from their business – or discriminate in their hiring practices – on the basis of color. Or religion. But they can prohibit people who are carrying guns from entering their premises. And they can refuse to hire someone who says they will exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms at work. It’s legal, but is it right?
What’s beyond dispute (although I hate it when people use that term): employers should train employees how to ID, counter and survive workplace violence/terrorist attacks. With guns, if they choose to bring them to work. To that end, two days before the OK City beheading, securitymanagement.com‘s Kenneth J. Miller wrote an article entitled A Policy For Guns In The Workplace.
Most states now allow employees to carry concealed firearms or to store guns in cars on company property. Corporations have the right to deny all weapons on their property, but this may not be realistic in today’s environment. Instead, companies should focus on employees who want to carry concealed guns in the workplace and ensure that they are responsible and capable enough to bear the responsibility. All employees will have a better sense of security if they believe that management has done their due diligence by ensuring the people who carry guns are not a threat to the company.
The reference to “today’s environment” signals a sea change (again before the OK City beheading). As does the exhortation to background check pistol-packing workers. Employers are beginning to recognize that lethal threats, and self-defense guns at work, are out there. These companies are taking responsibility for preparing for previously unthinkable violence. Sure it’s all about liability, but still…winning?
All employees must undergo the basics of violence prevention to include: understanding risk factors, recognizing inappropriate or problematic behavior, and reporting threats. This training must be mandatory and all new employees must complete the training sessions before they begin their assigned duties. All employees must go through sustainment training on this topic yearly, not only to reiterate the policy, but to advise on any changes or trends being noticed in the workplace. The most important aspect of the training program is to clearly walk through various situations and identify to each employee what response management desires from them during an incident of violence.
Shoot the bad guy, don’t get shot by the cops? Seriously. While companies are prone to over-thinking any potential legal liability, armed self-defense isn’t all that complicated. Nor is the underlying concept: the desire for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn’t end where the workplace begins. If you have a choice, it’s best to work for/with people who understand, appreciate and implement that philosophy.