5 Questions to Ask before taking your gun to work
Better than trying to write an all-encompassing piece detailing the different laws in 50 states alongside court-specific statutes – we're running down a list of questions in the next few sections that you should ask yourself prior to taking part in workplace concealed carry. This is not only for your own safety but also for legal purposes. As was the case in Tampa, FL, a bank manager for Wells Fargo was fired for legally carrying a concealed firearm into her workplace. The decision is expected to have its day in Florida courts but the issue still remains: can you conceal carry at work?
Does your business prohibit concealed carry at the workplace through use of posted legal notices?
In every state where concealed carry permits are issued, businesses have to notify their employees in clear, legible terms that they are not allowed their constitutional right to ccw while at work – permit or no. This is more than just having it in the employee handbook. It's a declaration similar to how labor laws have to be posted in conspicuous places.
State Laws - Can you conceal carry at work by default?
Plenty of businesses operate out of a leased building which may be shared by other non-related entities. Unless a business or building specifically stipulates that it is illegal to carry a firearm – you may be authorized to do so. It really depends on the specific state's statutes – which are too numerous and far reaching to cover in a single article. The best possible way to determine this is by checking with the building owner and your manager.
Will the weapon be on your person the entire time?
Plenty of workplaces have locker rooms or places where employees put their jackets and personal items prior to starting their shift. Will your firearm be located in this area? Is it secured? In some jobs it simply isn't practical or feasible to carry a firearm. In the event you need to store it, ensure it is both legal and safe to do so.
Can a weapon be stored in your vehicle?
If your answer to the question "Can I ccw at work?" turns out to be no, you may want to consider keeping a weapon in your vehicle.
It is probably not a good idea to practice ccw at work against policy. If the business or property owner specifically prohibits the carrying of a concealed firearm, does that prohibition extend to your vehicle as well? In some cases – especially when property is brought into the picture – the parking lot has to also clearly mark that firearms are prohibited. This is nearly impossible to enforce but it is a legal requirement of the property owner.
Some states allow employers to dictate the terms and conditions of how they govern their workplace. Almost all states allow employees to store handguns in their vehicles. This really only gets complicated when you either work on a nuclear facility, for the federal government, or in education or medicine.
Let's take a hospital, for example. Hospitals usually have strict policies in place for the carrying of firearms or weapons – concealed or otherwise. What about after your nurses or technicians get off shift? Video surveillance is great for an “after the fact” moment but for the during, allowing your employees to legally carry from the workplace to the parking lot is an essential piece of this equation.
Helping the Push For Concealed Carry in the Workplace
Sometimes business owners don't fully understand the value of ccw carry at work. Whether it was accidentally overlooked by human resources or purposefully omitted – you may be the best person to advocate for concealed carry. We wrote about how real estate agents should conceal carry, but there are lots of other jobs where employees face a real danger every day. The question is – are you willing to have that conversation with your manager and human resources? In states such as Illinois where concealed carrying is a new factor – many businesses may be under-educated as to the value.
Pursue Every Day Carry in the Workplace
Every day carry means carrying everywhere you are legally allowed to, every single day of the year you're physically able. It's not so much a burdensome commitment as it is a great piece of mind for your daily activities.
Not all employers and perhaps fellow colleagues are as open-minded as you when it comes to the inalienable right to defend yourself. The great thing about carrying concealed is that outside of being prohibited by law from going certain places, no one needs know but you.
Many companies' employee handbooks may not even cover the topic of concealed carry in the workplace. When in doubt, read through it to see if there is an active policy in place preventing you from carrying a firearm. If nothing is found in the handbook, an honest conversation can yield those aforementioned policy guidelines.
In the private sector, you're pretty much allowed to discuss rules and work from there. If that's you, consider talking with your boss about the benefits of having legally armed employees in the building. It's one added step for security and more importantly, it drives home the value you have for the workplace. If you don't feel comfortable broaching this topic and notice that the employee rules and regulations is missing a section on employee-held firearms, consider proposing changes to those rules to incorporate law-abiding concealed carriers. You may be surprised to learn that plenty of your fellow colleagues also support such an initiative.
Benefits of Having Legally Armed Employees
Employees are the greatest asset to a company. They produce the means or provide a service so that you can look at the bigger picture. Showing them that they reflect that value is as simple as enabling them to be legal and responsible in their protection.
You know your business better than anyone else. You can also dictate concealed carry policy for employees for Human Resources and the employee handbook. Enabling your employees who are traveling or walking to and from your place of work to the parking lot is a simple but appreciated step.
A lot of companies are starting to catch on: responsible concealed carriers are a force multiplier in terms of keeping employees and customers safe. Some time ago, a T-Mobile employee used his concealed carry handgun to neutralize two armed robbers in a store in Chicago. He successfully managed to protect both customers and his fellow employees. While T-Mobile is generally “gun free” in concealed carry workplace policy, the manager quickly saw that if it was not for the fast action on behalf of his employee, they all would have been put at even greater risk.
Giving Incentive to Employees to Look After One Another
The best resource for employee and customer security are your employees. Security guards are an outward deterrent but they are also a huge expense and are limited in an active role. Knowing that your employees are discretely, responsibly, legally armed is just one more failsafe against preparing for the worst.
No one likes to deal with worst case scenarios but they are a fact of life. Ensuring your employees have the means to defend each other in one of those scenarios shows that you value them.
Encouraging Concealed Carry at The Workplace and Outside of It
CCW and work are perfect partners, but it shouldn't stop there. Employee culture is important to longevity. Actively encouraging employees to embrace concealed carry and even giving incentives for them to practice, take additional concealed carry training, and purchase the right equipment is just going one step further to demonstrate you value them.
You care about them not just when they're at work but when they're outside of work. Concealed carry every day, inside and outside the workplace, is a great first step. Encouraging additional training and even showing them some safety procedures like getting a holster with great retention and adjustable cant are all ways to show this.
Additionally, carrying concealed in business attire is a low impact, easily hidden practice that won’t interrupt workflow nor long meetings.
Your Customers Know They're Safe
When a customer steps foot inside your business, first appearances are everything. They may never know the person they're talking to is a concealed carrier but the other employees will likely know. This will reflect in how they treat their customers as they ensure both their safety and that of the person they are dealing with.
When In Doubt – Don't Print
Not all jobs are in an office setting. For those who travel to do repairs or perform services, ccw for work is a piece of mind when traveling to different locations. Carrying a concealed firearm can mean the difference between defending your life and being robbed out in the middle of nowhere. If you're unsure what your company policy is, the best plan is to simply be “out of sight, out of mind.”
Do not reveal you are armed carrying in agreat concealed carry holster that are comfortable on the road or out in the field. If you're worried about the gun sagging and needing to be adjusted, consider purchasing a gun belt consisting of two layers of 14 oz. English Bridle Leather, a spring-steel reinforced core, and stitching that's built to last against whatever you throw at it.
It's a point of pride to carry and we all want to finish the work day and head home to spend quality time with those we love. Being available to protect yourself and perhaps even fellow colleagues from danger is a cost multiplier when it comes to business.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.