Workplace Shootings Fire Up Controversy Over Gun Control Laws

On January 30, 2012, two victims lost their lives because of a workplace shooting. Five lives were lost on September 27, 2012 as a result of a Minneapolis workplace shooting. Three lives were lost on November 6, 2012 in a California workplace shooting. After these deathly shootings in the workplace on top of other tragic events that have occurred in the last year, gun control laws and workplace violence are hot topics that are being reevaluated.

Key Points:

  • All U.S. employers are required by federal law to “maintain safe work environment”
  • State legislature determine gun policy regulation. Since 2003, nearly 20 states have adopted laws restrict employers from controlling fun policies. Hyperlink.
  • According to studies by ASIS International Foundation and the U.S. Justice Department, workplace homicides average about 500 a year in the U.S. and 80% of these homicides involving shootings.
  • Job sites that allow guns are five to seven times more probable to suffer homicides than locations that ban all guns

Employers’ Arguments to Control Workplace Gun Policies

Companies have the right to control its own private property and by law, employers are required to provide a safe work environment for all employees, thus they are fighting to gain control of creating gun policies in the workplace. They wish to prohibit the allowance of guns in locked vehicles in parking lots in order to mitigate future workplace violence and keep employees safe.

Employees’ and NRA’s Arguments to Keep Firearm in Locked Vehicle

The strongest argument for citizen’s rights is that parking lot gun policies violate a citizen’s second amendment right to bear arms. Furthermore, the National Rifle Association argues that employees should have the right to “protect themselves on their drive home” from the workplace.

What’s ahead?

The number of states prohibiting employers from creating firearms policies in parking lots is increasing. As these laws become enacted, concerns about workplace violence will heighten and employers will need to develop and implement workplace safety policies and guidelines to mitigate this violence.

What can employers do?

If state has adopted workplace gun laws (prohibited employers to disallow employees to keep firearms in locked vehicles in parking lots) employers should create gun-free-work-zones. Additionally, the company’s legal counsel should become familiarized with state laws and create legal gun policies that do not violate the rights of their employees. Beyond this, employers should clearly communicate these policies and safety guidelines to all employees. Finally, human resources should provide supervisors with training on how to handle concealed weapons and workplace violence and emphasize warning signs of potential violence.

If the state has not adopted workplace gun laws, the employer should develop policies that restrict guns in parking lots.

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