Policy control: Do you allow employees to bring guns to work?
Gun control may be the hottest topic on all government levels: federal, state and local. The Obama Administration wants to enact legislation that will not only make background checks more rigorous, but also ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
At stake is a possible rewriting of the second amendment to the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
However, this won’t affect your business nearly as much as the trend toward CCW permits. “CCW” stands for “carrying a concealed weapon.”
Do you have a gun control policy in place that addresses the carrying of concealed weapons? If not, you should. Although CCW permits are on the rise, legal precedent that determines liability in case of injuries involving guns in the workplace is lacking.
(For purposes of this editorial, I equate “weapon” with “firearm,” but your policy should address any definition of “weapon.”) There are just too many unanswerable questions surrounding CCW laws and liability at this point.
That is why having a gun control policy in place, one that the courts can use as a basis for their rulings, is so important.
And it all starts with state law. Do you need a permit to carry a firearm in a public area? How easy is it to get one? Are permits granted based on certain criteria or some authority’s discretion?
Four states allow people to carry concealed firearms (or openly carry them, for that matter) without a permit: Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming. Based on proposed legislation, that total may increase soon.
Only two U.S. jurisdictions, Illinois and the District of Columbia, forbid the carrying of weapons in public, although late last year, a federal appeals court declared the Illinois ban unconstitutional. A few other states, such as Hawaii and New Jersey, restrict the practice as much as they can.
That leaves most states with relatively accommodating CCW permit requirements.
Of even more interest to you, there are 18 states that provide a permit system for citizens to legally carry a concealed weapon in a personal vehicle while parked on company property. They are Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. And Wisconsin allows an employee with a CCW permit to keep a firearm in a personal vehicle even if the vehicle is used for employment.
What about carrying guns into the workplace? Employers can prevent this by posting signs in the building. Proper language in the “Employee Handbook” also satisfies this requirement.
What about your customers? Sure, you can post a sign outside your place of business that says “No guns allowed.” If you do, however, be prepared for the consequences. For example, in Texas, a notorious pro-gun state, putting up that sign probably will cost you more business than you could ever gain from members of the anti-gun movement.
“We don’t allow our employees to bring guns on the premises,” one tire dealer told me when I asked him if he had a gun control policy at his store. “We don’t want customers to do it, either, but we haven’t posted any signs. We don’t want to lose any business. We sort of tippy-toe around it.” (To see how some of our National Advisory Council members answered that question, check out “Your Turn” on page 76.)
Can you have a policy that allows customers to bring guns into your dealership but not your employees? If so, what is your liability if one of your customers injures another, or one of your employees, or you?
For you multi-state dealers, is one state’s law regarding the carrying of concealed weapons acknowledged by other states?
These are just a few of the questions that you have to ask yourselves when developing a gun control policy.
Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, a person must be either a U.S. citizen or a legal resident alien of legal age to own a gun.
Except for a few restrictions, such as felonious criminal behavior or mental instability, the right is inalienable. That means the issue must be addressed.
Get legal help to establish a gun control policy at your dealership. Put it in writing. Then enforce it. ■
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