COLORADO TRAGEDY DEMONSTRATES SECURITY CHALLENGES OF CONCEALED WEAPONS LAWS
Incidents like the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting have brought concealed weapons laws back into sharp national focus. At the time of this writing, some specifics are yet to be determined, but the alleged perpetrator is said to have acquired all of his weapons legally. Concealed weapons laws make everyone a potential carrier, and the debate is once again inflamed with both sides speculating about what would have happened if other audience members had been carrying.
Since 1986, nearly every state in the United States has enacted concealed weapons laws. The restrictions in some states are more stringent than others, but the bottom line is that only Illinois still prohibits concealed firearms. Last year, Wisconsin became the 49th state to allow carrying concealed weapons.
In February of this year, the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, which involved a private citizen—a convicted felon—legally carrying a handgun, became a galvanizing incident for both sides of the gun control debate. According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, “Gun control advocates say lax gun laws in Florida are at least partially to blame for Martin’s death. They also say Florida is being used as a test case for gun control legislation in other states.”
In North Carolina, for instance, companies are forced to allow firearms in their parking lots as long as they remain within a locked vehicle. Wisconsin’s new laws also include this provision. Furthermore, both states grant companies immunity from liability if they allow employees to bring firearms onto company property. This amounts to an incentive to companies to enact such policies.
According to a study by Dr. Dana Loomis, director of the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, workplace violence amounts to about 20% of all violent crime in the United States every year. Of those crimes, about 500 result in death. More than 75% of those fatalities result from gun violence. In about a third of those cases, the murderer knew the victim(s) as co-workers, acquaintances, or family members. Dr. Loomis states, “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.”
No organization wants to be part of statistics like this.
What are your state’s concealed weapons laws? Has your company established policies on firearms? With an unknown number of firearms in the company parking lot, what new challenges might your security personnel face?
Sunstates president Glenn Burrell says, “It’s a challenge for every organization. They have to balance citizens’ right to carry firearms with the company’s obligation to protect employees and visitors. It can be a delicate balancing act.”
Where to Start
Increased vigilance from security personnel is a minimum requirement for dealing with legally carried firearms. Companies must recognize that concealed weapons laws can have an enormous impact on security and safety; they must adapt and develop new policies on firearms. If your organization does not have a security director, putting one in place is also a great first step.
Working with gun laws can be a challenge, but the following strategies offer a starting point:
• Perform regular threat assessments as part of a dynamic set of established security policies.
• Combine pre-employment psychological screening with electronic surveillance.
• Implement “restrictive parking lots,” or “exclusion zones” within parking lots.
• Restrict access to vehicles during shifts.
• Restrict firearms for disciplined employees.
• Evaluate the need for an armed security presence
• Monitor parking lots monitored by security officers, CCTV, access controls, etc.
• Develop joint training protocols with law enforcement for emergency situations.
• Train security officers to recognize and respond to imminent threats.
• Train employees and supervisors to recognize indicators of workplace violence and how to respond in such circumstances.
Sunstates Security offers practical means for responding to gun laws, including consultation with security managers and human resources departments to update company policies. Please contact your Sunstates Security representative for more information.
Taschler, Joe. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, July 7, 2011 —http://www.jsonline.com/business/125724563.html
Concealed Weapon Laws Make Security Practitioners Worried — http://www.securitymanagement.com/news/concealed-weapon-laws-make-security-practitioners-worried-004621
Peltier, Michael. “Concealed weapons approach 1 million in Florida” – Jacksonville Business Journal, April 5, 2012