Concealed Weapon Laws Make Security Practitioners Worried

By Matthew Harwood

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.


The more weapons people

The more weapons people have, the more crime we'll see. That's mostly true in areas where crime is otherwise under the control of the police. If however the police doesn't do a very good job, weapons will actualyl improve people's safety. I live in a relatively safe area and I definitely see that people are more worried since concealed weaponds were allowed a couple of years ago. I see a lot more security system signs in people's yard even though, again, it's not an area where this is really needed. I'm definitely interested to see any avaialbe nubmers about the effect of these laws on crime ratings in the affected areas.

Background Information check

D-law provides user-friendly full background review of companies or Background Information check service. Some sample service features are civil/criminal search, bankruptcy, defendant, name soundex, case record search etc.

Arm the good guys: everyone's safer

Loomis' study smacks of and appears to reference a study by Kellerman and Reay, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1986 and again, slightly modified, in 1993. This study has been thoroughly discredited. Kellerman and Reay don't even defend it any more. Yet the anti-gun world still trots it out on a regular basis. Highly credible refutations can easily be found by entering "Kellerman and Reay" in your browser's address bar.

John Lott and Gary Kleck have both separately studied the issue with more vigorous study design and analytical measures. While they have detractors, their research has withstood the assault.

Kleck states that conservatively (conservatively!) estimated, there are 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms annually in the United States. Broken down to averages, this amounts to one defensive gun use every 13 seconds.

Lott's studies show a decrease in violent (and risky--hot burglaries, for instance) criminal behavior where it is lawful to carry concealed firearms. He also shows that this does not reflect a general trend of reduction of criminal activity, but shows statistically significant differences between adjacent communities. His work even shows how similar adjacent communities diverged in crime stats following one community's liberalization (less crime) and the other's staying the same (continued following general trends).

Lockheed's Meridian plant was the scene of a terrible case of workplace violence a few years ago (July 2003) despite armed security and strong policies prohibiting guns on site. Six people were killed, including a federal firearms licensee and avid shooter who could easily have ended the episode almost as soon as it had begun, saving several lives including his own, had he not been disarmed by company policy. (Sooner or later, disarming employees will become a major civil liability for employers.)

The Lockheed experience suggests a truth I've observed for many years: the good guys seriously outnumber the bad guys. Absolutely everyone is safer if the good guys have guns. From a somewhat unconventional social science perspective, this tends to put an end to hardened criminals and deter those who are not so committed, increasing security for all innocents.

Restricting gun ownership or carry is not good for security officers or the industry, although some might cynically feel that security services sales might benefit from scared, defenseless people. Maybe sales would indeed be easier, but I should hope we security professionals would be above such ploys. Security pros should partner with and augment, not supplant, a site's or person's security efforts.

Concealed Weapon Laws Make Security Practitioners Worried

The author’s actual hypothesis is that liberalized state gun laws worry security practitioners and employees. In fact, that is the headline of the article.

The author then provides some very interesting support for the separate idea that liberalized gun laws have actually increased the risk to employees and businesses.

This article confuses two important points - how people feel about the risk, and whether the actual risk is higher because of these laws. As security professionals, we are often called upon to help businesses and people deal with risk – both actual and perceived. They are not the same and the techniques used to manage risk are not the same as the techniques to manage a perception of risk that is different from reality. By the way, I do not agree with the statement that “perception is reality.” Perception may be one person’s reality, but it is not reality.

As to the suggestion these laws have actually increased the risk, I think we need better data to support that conclusion. We have had such a law in Minnesota for several years, and we have not seen an increase. On the other hand, we have considerable evidence that new laws, policies and signs prohibiting guns have not deterred people from using them for criminal purposes.

For what it’s worth, my comments are not motivated by a political agenda - I am not a gun rights advocate or someone who wants to ban guns. My comments are from the perspective of trying to objectively manage security risks – real and imagined – for my company.

Finally, I think ASIS International should carefully consider taking a stance on such controverial issues, on behalf of all security professionals, in the absence of good scientific data to support their position.

Jim McNeil, CPP

Article on concealed carry weapons /laws in workplace

As a retired law enforcement officer and someone who is pro 2nd Amendment consider the source of the research. Some of these reserchers, depending on who they work for, are biased towards gun and gun owners. The legal gun owners that have concealed carry permits aren't the problem. Contrary to what researchers look at, guns have saved over 2.5 million lives. By enacting stricter gun control in an effort to curtail crime is an oxymoron, rather it is more of an attempt to actually disarm the law abiding people of this country.

As for having guns kept inside vehicles at the workplace, if it's legal: fine. And if there aren't any problems with that, leave it alone. Those people that have their guns in their cars can get to them if necessary. Occasionally there are news reports of a person that goes to a business and starts shooting. The police have to respond to an incident after it happens. I am in no way picking on or discrediting law enforcment in any way. It would be prudent to inform law enforcement responding to a workplace shooting that there are, or may be, employees that have CCW, which would avoid a civilian from being shot by mistake. Again, consider the source of the research.
-- Steve Coraggio ASIS member

ASIS should avoid partisan agendas in its publications.

It is disappointing that ASIS International is publishing a report on a complex topic using flawed research. Most academics will agree that research, particularly in the social sciences, may easily be biased by the manner in which the experiment is designed, the questions that are asked, internal and external control measures, and other parameters that define what is being examined.

Causation is often difficult to prove, particularly in the social sciences. Often the best a researcher may do is establish a lack of causal relationship between stimulus and result.

As an epidemiologist, Professor Loomis has a lengthy history of conducting research on firearms violence from the perspective of considering the “epidemic” of firearms violence as analogous to epidemics caused by disease. When Dr. Loomis was with the Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, he co-authored a paper entitled: “Killed on the clock: A population-based study of workplace homicide, 1977-1991”, funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control; Grant Number: R49/CCR402444.

The findings included: “Workplace homicide rates are highest for men, older and self-employed workers, minorities and specific occupations, especially taxi drivers. Robberies, mostly in retail settings, accounted for half of the cases, while 20% were known to involve disputes, the contexts of which differed by sex. Women were most likely to be killed by estranged partners” (American Journal of Industrial Medicine, April, 2000).

This study, while identifying factual parameters of gun violence in the workplace, did not control for factors regarding the extent to which perpetrators were or were not legally authorized to carry firearms via a Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) permit. Therefore, the results say little regarding the relationship between safe workplace conditions and lawful firearms owners as opposed to criminals. There is no empirically-supported basis for suggesting that allowing lawfully licensed firearms permit holders to bring firearms into a workplace de facto increases risk of those same individuals committing a crime.

Professor Loomis’ research has been criticized previously for a similar lack of academic rigor. Howard Nemerov discusses a number of disturbing opportunities for bias in another study co-authored by Loomis, and notes: “relevant data points are missing”. Nemerov identifies research design issues resulting from small-n studies, identifies bias from the manner in which the research hypothesis was stated, and concludes “Loomis and Marshall rely upon discredited research to justify making a biased conclusion at the outset of their study. They then ignore their own findings as inappropriate when they conflict with their predetermined outcome” (Nemerov, 2007).

This is not the only occasion where Professor Loomis’ bias may be found in his work. In the ASIS CRISP report Loomis writes: “Studies of individual killings have also shown that keeping a gun in the home is a risk factor for homicide in the household and that purchasing a gun is associ¬ated with becoming a homicide victim” (Loomis, ASIS CRISP report, page 8) (emphasis added). The act of purchasing a gun is associated with becoming a homicide victim? How strong is the association? What elements define this association? Where may the empirical data be examined that identify this specific association? No such independent, un-biased, rigorous studies exist.

On the other hand, such questions regarding the analysis of Dr. Loomis’ academic conclusions do not trouble the Brady Campaign, who base their well-known agenda upon Dr. Loomis’ findings on page one of their recent study regarding the causal relationships between guns in the workplace and associated firearms violence:

Dr. Loomis is by no means the only medical professional who chooses to characterize crime in U.S. society as an “epidemic”, analogous to a disease of viral or bacteriological origin. For at least a decade the American College of Physicians has stated: “The American College of Physicians thinks that gun violence and firearm injury prevention must be dealt with as high-priority public health issues as well as criminal justice concerns. The College thinks that physicians must become more active in counseling patients about firearm safety and more involved in community efforts to restrict ownership and sale of handguns” (Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol 128 Issue 3, February 1998). While their opinions are certainly relevant, let no one suspect that their agenda is entirely free of any bias or pre-determined conclusions. Any research they fund may be assumed from the outset to be supportive of their general proposition that “physicians must become more involved in community efforts to restrict ownership and sale of handguns” (ibid).

Dr. Loomis seeks to imply a causal relationship between “guns in the workplace” and “violence in the workplace”. If there is such a clear correlation, then why, as Nemerov asks, is there not more workplace gun violence in police stations, where nearly everyone in the building is armed at all times? Clearly violence in the workplace is a security issue. Clearly security measures and policies must be adopted to reduce risks of violence in the workplace. Clearly stopping criminals with firearms (as well as other threats) from entering the workplace is a requisite strategy. But the research presented by Dr. Loomis does not support any conclusions regarding causal relationships between lawfully licensed CCW firearms permit holders and workplace violence. ASIS International should seek professional and thoughtful conclusions free from bias from pseudo-research designed from the outset to provide findings that support specific agendas.

W.C. Brunsdon, Ph.D., CPP

Security Practitioners are Critical Thinkers

The article is profoundly flawed in several areas purportedly based on study results. Those flaws have been addressed elsewhere in great detail and need not be regurgitated here. Simply stated, Dr. Loomis' recommendations appear to be based more on political biases than empirical data.
To the point of this comment; for the past two decades, I have been a Security Professional at two separate sites that allow weapons to be carried by individuals. I state emphatically that this policy has directly led to increased safety of the workforce and the surrounding populace. No less than seven violent crimes have been averted or stopped by employees carrying firearms. There has not been a single workplace violence incident involving any weapons for the same period of time.
To be fair, firearms are like any other potentially dangerous item. In those twenty years, a single self-inflicted minor injury occurred as a result of a firearm malfunction. The malfunction was reported to the manufacturer and a design modification corrected the problem. A comparison for the same period of time revealed many injuries, ranging from minor to fatal, occurred using common trade tools.
Recommendations must be based on hard facts and supporting data to be well received by an audience that has access to the facts. This article falls well short of making the intended impact.

Security Personnel worry about concealed carry personnel

Security personnel shold not worry about persons that have legally obtained a concealed carry permit. Those that have done so are legal law abiding citizens that are exercising their 2nd amendment right, and has all unbiased studies have shown, the legal concealed carry reduces crime. We should not expect citizens of this great nation to leave their rights at home just because of the attempt of employers to deny them of their 2nd ammendent right. We must face up to the fact that law abiding citizens are not the problem, it is the unlawful that is the concern, and most of them do not work for an employer, as their activities are spent doing unlawful activities.

Guns in the workplace

Despite fears to the contrary, Florida's "shall issue" concealed carry permit law has not resulted in increased violence, as predicted by the media and some corporate entities. In fact, Florida has enjoyed an overall reduction in violent crime in the twenty years since concealed carry became law.

I would review Dr. Loomis' report with some skepticism, in view of the extraordinary bias frequently found with this "hot button" issue. As gun control laws have been liberalized and struck down around the country, there has not been a corresponding increase in violent crime that can be attributed to lawful possession of firearms. People who obey the law and obtain permits are not a risk at home; they should not be considered a risk at work.

Concealed Weapons

As an ASIS International member I am very disappointed with this article and the manner in which it was reported. The fact that violence ocurred more often in the 90's at companies who did not restrict guns on their property does not directly correlate with those people who hold concealed weapons permits. People who invest the time and money involved to be able to legally carry a concealed weapon are far less likely to use that firearm for anything other than self defense. The article would have been better served, and more fair, had you included the statistics that show the number of concealed weapons permit holders and of those how many had been convicted of crimes involving a firearm. The article above shows bias and is not an accurate representation. Security also involves personal security and many people are taking advantage of their right to carry a firearm as a way to secure themselves and their personal property.

Concealed Weapon Laws Make Security Practitioners Worried

The ASIS Institute and Dr. Loomis' report represent more of a "politically correct" statement than a thoughtful and dispassionate review of the issue. AISI has resisted the challenge to really gather data on this important issue, instead they carved out a position and are trying to backfill with contrived data. Look up the DOJ data on the issue - you will find the vast majority of non-law enforcement gunshot injuries (who’s data is included I believe in Dr. Loomis' study for some reason) occur in retail establishments where "no gun" policies would only work if you had customers subjected to metal detectors. It is a red flag when studies looking at low numbers report in percentages rather than real numbers - even the article implies low numbers (only one third of fatalities are non-robbery/theft related i.e. 167 for the whole country) Is this enough data to develop defendable policy? Don’t Think So. Perhaps ASIS should sponsor a non-biased study with players from all sides of this issue (for instance- how many times has a armed employee intervened and prevented violence? I know of several from last year.)

More light-less smoke!

More gun-fearing diatribe

I had hoped that a community of educated and experienced security professionals would not pander to the liberal agenda that is overwhelming us in all media formats. As for myself, I am rarely worried about any law abiding citizen that makes the effort to aquire a CCW permit. I try to focus on the individuals that carry a firearm without a license since they are criminals, and by definition, are almost always responsible for criminal acts.

This is not my ASIS

So basically what the ASIS's leadership is saying is as security practitioners we are more concerned about what the law abiding employees of our companies are doing versus what non-law abiding employees are doing.

Are companies so scared of possible litigation that they will deny individual rights to those who have decided that their life and the lives of others are precious? If ASIS wants to deny an individual the right to protect themselves from possible harm then what is ASIS and the employer going to do to protect the employee? Unarmed minimum wage security officers? A couple of CCTV cameras to video tape the incident? Are these employers going to put armed guards in every building?

Does the employer have an overall responsibility to protect all of its employees from harm while at work because case law tells us that as citizens we do not have the right to expect the police to protect its citizens? If the employer is not required to protect us then does it become the responsibility of the individual? And if the police are not required to protect us and the employer is not required to protect us, and the responsibility falls on the employee does that make the employer liable when he denies the employee the tools to protect themselves?

I personally think that ASIS is missing an opportunity to show leadership in this arena. In every high crime area that restrictions of ownership has been reduced and Concealed Carry has been legislated as “shall” issue there has been a demonstrated and quantifiable reduction in violent crimes.

All of the major incidents involving the use of weapons in the work place the underlying fact is that these areas are considered ‘Gun Free” zones. The USPS shootings, Columbine, Virginia Tech, NIU, and many others are perfect examples of “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away”.

Instead of forcing good law abiding employees to hide their guns in their cars more companies should be developing policies and procedures that will allow “licensed to carry” employees to carry at work to the point of integrating these individuals into the overall security response plan. By identifying these individuals, recognizing their special skills we can make our work place safer.

These individuals and have gone through the process of having a background check, registered with the state, and completing a required level of training are a not threat to the company. The fact that an employee transports a weapon in their car and leaves that weapon in their locked vehicle with no intention of bringing it into the work place is not a threat to the company.

I used to think ASIS was better than this.

View Recent News (by day)


Beyond Print

SM Online

See all the latest links and resources that supplement the current issue of Security Management magazine.