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Battle Over Guns in the Workplace

IT’S NOW A CRIME in Oklahoma to prevent anyone other than a convicted felon from bringing a concealed gun into any parking facility. The gun must be kept in the gun owner’s vehicle.

Similar measures are being considered across the country. That has alarmed many business owners. One concern has been that irate workers would have quick access to guns in their cars, says Linda Fite, director of security at the Fairview University Medical Center in Minneapolis.

The laws have not spontaneously arisen, charges the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which has issued a position paper about the campaign to get these laws passed that it says has been orchestrated by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The paper contends that the NRA has been able to convince lawmakers to give gunowner rights a higher priority than “the right of property owners to control their private property and the right of businesses to set the terms and conditions of the workplace….”

The authors urge businesses to lobby against these proposals being introduced around the country to avoid increased liability and potential public relations problems from gun-related events on their properties.

An NRA fact sheet on the issue notes that the legislation restricts weapons to cars and that the vast majority of workplace homicides occur during robberies, not due to disgruntled workers.

The fact sheet also notes that personal firearms could protect workers from violent robbers.

In fact, in Minnesota such a statute seems to have had little deleterious effect in the short term. That law was in effect for about a year between mid-2003 and mid-2004 before it was struck down on a technicality, and in that period the concern of readily available guns in cars became a nonissue, says Fite.

“Initially it was a big deal,” she says, noting that her hospital and others got together to develop strategies and policies on how to work within the new law. “But nothing ever happened when the law was on the books,” Fite says. In other words, guns didn’t start showing up everywhere, and there weren’t incidents of road rage in the parking lot.

An ASIS position paper on the subject comes out resolutely against such statutes, however. “Allowing employees and visitors to bring loaded, concealed weapons through security and up to the door of an office building or plant is a recipe for disaster,” the paper says. It points out that angry employees would have such quick access to their guns that they wouldn’t have a chance to “cool off” before becoming violent.