Parking Lots are New Battleground in Bring-Your-Gun-to-Work Debate
The gun lobby has managed to convince lawmakers in more than 20 states to adopt laws allowing employees to bring guns to work, as long as the firearms remain in their automobiles. Known as “bring your gun to work” or “parking-lot” laws, these measures have angered many business owners, including those running some of the largest companies in the United States, who argue that the statutes interfere with company policies and conflict with property owners’ rights.
To date, 22 states have passed laws allowing individuals with valid permits to keep small and large caliber weapons in their vehicles once they arrive at their jobs. Workers cannot bring the weapons into the workplace itself, nor can their bosses tell them to leave their weapons at home.
“Much like a private homeowner is able to tell his guests whether they can bring a gun into his yard, FedEx should have the right to decide what it will and will not allow on its private property,” Mark Hogan, vice president of U.S. security for FedEx Express told Tennessee lawmakers last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Tennessee went on to adopt a law allowing guns in parking lots.
Gun-rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association, claim the laws increase worker safety, and say that workers have a right to protect themselves during their commutes.
But Hogan disagreed with the notion that guns at work makes the job safer.
“FedEx should be allowed to continue to implement policies that are designed to protect our employees from irrational or heat-of-the-moment actions by their co-workers,” Hogan told lawmakers, according to MSN Money. “Allowing employees to have near, immediate access to firearms, at work, creates an element of risk that is unacceptable.”
Last year alone, 375 U.S. workers were shot and killed on the job, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, workplaces that permit guns are about five times more likely to have an employee shot to death compared to workplaces that prohibit weapons, according to a 2005 American Journal of Public Health study.
A ban on guns in the workplace provides “an opportunity for the employee to cool off before they take an irrational action in response to something that happens at work,” FedEx’s Hogan testified in Tennessee.
Some firms are taking extra precautions in advance of a situation where they anticipate an employee may become angry. For instance, some companies have hired armed guards and had staff wear bulletproof vests at meetings where an employee is told he is being terminated. One such meeting, related to The Wall Street Journal by Philadelphia labor law specialist Jeffrey Pasek, was held at an airport so that the employee to be fired would first have to pass through security scanners.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
Guns in the Parking Lot: A Delicate Workplace Issue (by Sara Murray, Wall Street Journal)
Showdown Looms over 'Bring Your Gun to Work' Laws (by Bruce Kennedy, MSN)
‘Guns at Work’ Laws Pit Gun Owners Against Employers (Lawyers.com)
Starbucks Seeks to Keep Guns Out of Its Coffee Shops (by Stephanie Strom, New York Times)
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