The rising trend of liberalizing state gun laws to allow people to carry concealed weapons worries security practitioners, according to a new report from the ASIS International Foundation.
More than 30 states have passed legislation liberalizing the ability of individuals to carry concealed weapons. Five states have pushed further, specifically barring property owners and employers from banning concealed weapons in their parking lots.
According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, conducted with the help of the ASIS International Foundation, responders told their telephone interviewer that liberalized concealed weapons laws heightened their fear of co-worker violence as well as personal and family violence. All security practitioners responded that their organizations banned weapons in the workplace outside security staff. They also said that, unless state law prohibited the practice, all their organizations ban non-employees from bringing weapons into their workplace as well.
Some states, however, have passed laws that bar employers from banning concealed firearms on certain portions of their property. In 2004 and 2005, the Oklahoma legislature made it illegal for employers to ban employees from keeping weapons in locked vehicles in their parking lot. The law also allows people to sue their employer or a property owner for banning weapons on their premises and recover attorney fees and court costs.
Security practitioners fear more permissive concealed weapon laws because the more prevalent guns are in the workplace, a limited amount of studies have shown, the greater chance a worker will die from a gunshot. In 2005, one study conducted in North Carolina sampled workplaces in the state from 1994 to 1998. Eighty-eight percent of employers had policies about weapons, while 62 percent of those prohibited all weapons from their property. Twelve percent, however, allowed guns on their premises.
"Compared to workplaces that prohibited all kinds of weapons, workplaces that allowed guns were 6.8 times as likely to have had a worker killed on the job," the report's author, Dr. Dana Loomis, director of the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, writes.
Each year, workplace violence accounts for about 20 percent of all violent crime in the United States. On average, 500 of those incidents are fatal. When incidents are fatal, more than three-quarters of the time the victim died from gun violence. Two-thirds of the time, however, the murder occurred during the course of a robbery. The rest of the time, the victim was either a co-worker, an acquaintance, or a family member of the murderer.
Loomis' report, according to Martin Gill, chair of ASIS International Foundation's Research Council, "provide[s] solid ideas on how organizations can avoid becoming victims of workplace violence, and how to implement recommended solutions."
Loomis recommends that employers take a comprehensive approach to reducing the likelihood of gun violence on their property by performing threat assessments, adopting no-weapons policies when they can, and enforcing control measures, such as combining administration controls like preemployment psychological screening with environmental controls like electronic surveillance. Employers should also "develop, publicize, and enforce" violence prevention policies for employees, otherwise, they may leave themselves open to litigation for not providing a safe workplace for their employees.