When States Allow Employees to Bring Firearms to Work

There are certain news stories we one cannot help but muse on all the absurd potentialities.  One such story is one that came through a news letter to which I subscribe.   It  is an article in The Republic, in Columbus Indiana, where it reports that the Texas Legislature may allow employees to bring their guns to work with them.   That's right.  They can bring their guns, potentially, as long as they leave them in the parking lot.   Thirteen states have enacted similar legislation.  This comes at a time, of course, when government agencies, politicians, civil groups and what not are demanding background checks for for anyone buying a firearm.

The vote in the Texas Legislature was thirty to one in favor, so to say the least it is a popular concept.   Alicia Trip, Legislative Director of the Texas Rifle Association, said," We don't see it as bring your guns to work.  We call it the commuter safety bill."  Presumably, that means employees will be armed and ready during their commute should a bloodthirsty horde of renegade Apaches or carjackers,  whichever comes first.    Of course, plinking at targets and actually shooting people are to use a phrase, horses of a different color.  But I want go there.

One wonders if this will create a new form of employee bonding and team building.  A firearms show and tell out in the parking lot, during the lunch hour.  Perhaps the really accommodating employer will set up a target range out in the backyard so employees can shoot it up and try each other's weapons.     And the, of course, if a bunch of heathen terrorists decide to launch a "take no prisoners" attack on Big Ed's Produce and Patio Furniture Emporium, the workforce can band together and fight them off.    Talk about some terrific video for your iPhone.  Millions of hits on YouTube.

Not everybody is in favor of this legislation.  No surprise there.  At a time, as I noted, when various civic groups are demanding tougher background checks for those buying firearms, it would seem employers would be tasked with verifying the eligibility of the gun toting employee and the legitimacy of the firearm.  With the economy still slow and employers pressed for time they need to devote to the exigencies of actually running a business.

Various employers are far less sanguine about the bill.   Concerns are that in a tense workplace situation, should one employee have a beef with another, then with a gun in close proximity, the disgruntled employee may be more inclined to retrieve it from his car and start shooting up the place.   This can make for nasty headlines, and of course there is the pesky liability issues, and the resultant horror show that someone, or several someone's, have been killed or injured.   With workplace violence on the increase, this is a consideration, and not a recommended means of ending those uncomfortable office trysts.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas have that needling policy where they prohibit employees from coming to work with weapons.  Can't imagine why.  As for other health insurance companies, I don't know.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield were the two listed in the article.   So there could be a conflict between the new healthcare policy and the new weapons to work policy.  Of course if this becomes a heated controversy, I would say the ones with the weapons have the upper hand.

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I am not so concerned with the macro issue, guns versus anti-guns.  That's for other people to go on about.  I am concerned about common sense and what may be its practical application.  Maybe this new legislation will reflect no real increase in workplace violence in the form of shooting.   Let's face it, most employees may kill time on the job, but they have no intention of killing their fellow workers.  But then, there could be an increase.  And then, at best, we would chalk this new legislation up as almost a good idea.

As for the marauding hordes of barbarians that may sweep down on your vehicle as you commute from work, they are probably on a break or squandering their spoils.  All that Marauding is tough work, after all.  And as all recruiters should know, good help is hard to find.  No matter the industry.

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Comment by Jerry Albright on April 11, 2011 at 8:52am
Why should the right to keep and bear arms end when a legal gun owner gets in his car to head to work?


Comment by Gordon Basichis on April 11, 2011 at 10:28am
Jerry.  It doesn't and shouldn't.  It is when the employee  parks his car on a private parking lot, one that belongs to his employer, that is really the legal issue.  Should employers be compelled to store firearms on their own property, thus upping their insurance costs and potential liability exposure?   That's what I imagine we will see in the courts.
Comment by Chris Kidd on April 11, 2011 at 10:48am

Maybe insurance rates would go down if employees were allowed to bring guns to work?




Comment by Marylou Pritchard on April 11, 2011 at 11:20am
While driving to work in Santa Barbara two years ago, I saw a young man on the sidewalk irrationally yelling at passersby and waving an object in his hand. I was in the right hand lane and as I drove by - no more than six feet from him, when he put a revolver in his mouth.  The first responding officer had not arrived so there was no indication something was seriously wrong. After I called 911, I saw the first responding officer two blocks away. That person could have killed quite a few people in that two block travel time...   He didn't pull the trigger, but if he had pointed that gun at me instead of himself, I would hope that some other passerby would be able to defend themselves and other innocent drivers.      
You write: "As for the marauding hordes of barbarians that may sweep down on your vehicle as you commute from work, they are probably on a break or squandering their spoils.  All that Marauding is tough work, after all"      
I guess I happened upon that marauder before his break....
Comment by Jeb Blanchard on April 11, 2011 at 11:45am

Tennessee just passed a law that allows employers to still retain the right and authority to restrict handguns as they see fit; however, employers that choose to allow legally licensed employees to carry handguns onto workplace property will be protected from possible occupational safety sanctions.  Employers retain the right to the ultimate decision of whether to allow guns on their private workplace property.


Responsible, licensed gun owners are less likely to committ crimes of violence.  They are more likely to defend themselves should the need arise.  Get a permit to carry a gun and then make the choice to carry or not carry.  Look around the room and you won't see crazies, but responsible citizens.  In my class 40% of the people had been recently attacked or put in harms way by those not licensed to conceal carry.  Tennessee requires 8 hours of instruction, mostly about the law and when to use or not to use deadly force.


The chances of using deadly force to defend ones self is remote.  However it could happen at work or at play...

Comment by Suresh on April 11, 2011 at 12:27pm
Telecommuting ..anyone. 
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 11, 2011 at 8:06pm
Come spend about a week in the Texas panhandle Gordon.  You will not be quite so outraged about someone with a permit to carry having a gun in the car when you roll out on the parking lot to find a rattlesnake waiting for you behind your front tire.  On that note i bet you don't work in East LA.
Comment by Gordon Basichis on April 11, 2011 at 9:43pm

As I noted earlier, I am no stranger to guns.  And this is not about permits but bringing a gun to the job. You carry a gun in your car, fine.  Park it on the street, fine. You bring it on the employer's parking lot, it's another matter.  

To be clear about my experience with snakes and assorted predators, I worked once upon a time in East Texas with the Army Corps of Engineers.  Confronted a fair amount of snakes while patrolling and fixing the two large water control levees that ran about twelve miles apiece amid the different bayous.   Spent a fair amount of time in East LA, as well, even eat there from time to time,  and have miraculously survived.  

In my most recent book, a roman a clef, The Guys Who Spied for China, I pretty much tell about my years working for certain gentleman in the intelligence community who was hardly known for his pacifistic outlook on life.  

All that aside, and all conjecture being what it is,  fewer people will be attacked on their commute to work than they will in the actual workplace.  Guns in the workplace are enough of a concern that Blue Cross and Blue Shield, as the article attests attests will not even insure employers who allow for the practice.   I would venture other insurance groups will follow suit or hike up the rates,  if this becomes law.   Apparently, more than a few here believe on the part of the employer this is money well spent.   I shall be curious to see how many actually draw or use their weapons because they are confronted on their commute to work.   Keep me posted.

Comment by Thomas Patrick Chuna on April 12, 2011 at 8:12am

Gun free workplaces = target rich environment.


bad guys shoot up offices, cafeterias and schoolyards for a reason..they know nobody is going to shoot back.


Let's say that the presence of concealed carry enthusiasts and their guns isn't a deterrent to someone bent on shooting up an office full of innocents..at least someone has the option to stop the evildoer once he starts.


Always remember, the supreme court ruled that police don't have to get between a shooter and an innocent person and put themselves in danger..most will because that's why they're cops, but remember the dithering during columbine. in the end, your safety rests with you.


Guns are like any other tool..useful in very specific situations..true, the times a gun is THE tool to use in a self defense situation may be few and far between, but again, we have the right to have the option to make that choice for ourselves.


Lastly, I would pose this question..just HOW would my employer know I had a gun in my car, if I'm not dumb enough to advertise the fact?





Comment by Gordon Basichis on April 12, 2011 at 10:36am
Thomas, you make good points, of course.   As for your last question, yes, common sense would dictate you would be discreet about what you keep in the car.   But we are a background checking service, employment screening and all that.   Common sense is not that common a commodity.  I have long since gotten over my surprise, but some may find it astonishing how many employees cop to past crimes,  previous indiscretions, and the weapons they keep in the car.


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