Concealed Carry Permits Fire up Debate Over Workplace Shootings


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12 Volt Man
November 19, 2003, 02:47 PM
Concealed Carry Permits Fire up Debate Over Workplace Shootings
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
November 18, 2003

(Editor's note: This story contains descriptions of graphic violence and death, as well as one instance of quoted profanity, which some readers may find disturbing.)

(CNSNews.com) - In the crime blotter from Dec. 26, 2000, Louis "Sandy" Javelle's name appeared alongside those of six other victims who had been shot to death by a disgruntled co-worker at Edgewater Technologies, Inc., in Wakefield, Mass.

Javelle distinguished himself that day by trying to delay and disarm the gunman, 42-year-old Michael McDermott, before being killed. But Javelle might have saved his own life and at least four others if the concealed handgun permit he held in New Hampshire had allowed him to carry a weapon on his job in neighboring Massachusetts, according to one of Javelle's friends and numerous firearms policy experts.

"Sandy held both a federal firearms license and a permit to carry a handgun in New Hampshire," according to his friend, David Bergquist. "Ironically, the gun laws in Massachusetts prevented him from carrying a concealed handgun. But these same laws did not prevent Michael McDermott from obtaining illegal firearms."

Bergquist wrote the Boston Herald on Jan. 11, 2000, to inform the paper's readers of facts he believed were not being disclosed by law enforcement officials or reported by local and national media.

"When the rampage started, Sandy told co-workers to lock the door behind him and barricade it. He then confronted McDermott and became the third victim," Bergquist explained. "If Sandy had been permitted to carry a pistol, he could have stopped McDermott. That meant that five other people could possible have survived this tragedy.

"But Sandy did not have that option," Bergquist concluded. McDermott was later convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder.

Businesses often forbid licensed employees to carry guns at work

Even if the state of Massachusetts had honored Javelle's New Hampshire Concealed Handgun Permit, there's no guarantee that the legally qualified, trained marksman could have carried his weapon to work.

The 2003 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Workplace Violence Survey, to be released in December, polled employers about incidents of aggressive behavior at work and what steps employers were taking, ostensibly, to prevent violence. According to SHRM's Jen Jorgensen, "68 percent of organizations have a written policy addressing rules and regulations about weapons in the workplace."

The survey did not ask whether the policies gave or withheld permission for employees to be armed. But James Madero, Ph.D., president of Violence Prevention International, told CNSNews.com that "most organizations or companies won't allow weapons.

"There are a lot of downsides to having your employees armed at work," Madero claimed. "I think it's more dangerous. The companies and organizations we work with, they primarily say the best thing is no weapons."

Madero feels the majority of potential employee conflicts that could escalate to violence can be alleviated by the kinds of services his organization offers.

"Our experience has been that a lot of the homicides that occur at work, where it's one worker to another, is that those companies and organizations that have [such incidents] don't have a workplace violence prevention program or don't have a very good one in place," Madero said. "If you've got a workplace violence prevention program in place, there's a really good chance that you can prevent those things from happening."

'Very in-depth' program didn't prevent mass shooting at Mississippi plant

The Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company has what some in the workplace violence prevention industry consider one of the best programs of its type. Sam Grizzle, a spokesman for the Lockheed Martin Plant in Meridian, Miss., told CNSNews.com that: "we have a very thorough training program and employee awareness program for these particular issues."

The company's "workplace ethics program" includes training in a variety of areas such as harassment, ethical business practices, diversity, anger management and conflict resolution. Grizzle said LMAC also expects its employees to treat each other with respect and takes action when that expectation is not met.

"We have a very in-depth employee information and training program in place, and we have workplace rules and regulations our employees are required to follow," Grizzle explained. "When something is reported amiss, then we do an immediate investigation and take follow-up actions."

That is exactly what happened with LMAC employee Doug Williams in December of 2001. According to a statement issued by LMAC President Dain Hancock, Williams "supposedly made threatening remarks during a confrontation with another employee" at the Lockheed Martin plant in Meridian,

"As a result of a company investigation and his own admission of a problem with his temper, Mr. Williams was required to undergo professional psychological counseling," Hancock said. "After satisfactorily completing the treatment, he was cleared to return to work."

Williams did return to work, and with the exception of one additional incident in which a "minor prank" offended a coworker, he stayed out of trouble until July 8, 2003. On that Tuesday, Williams was attending one of the company's mandatory "workplace ethics" seminars.

The 48-year-old Williams, who had worked at the plant since 1984, left before the end of the training, retrieved a rifle and shotgun and returned to work, killing six of his co-workers and wounding eight others before committing suicide. After the massacre, he was described by several of his former fellow employees as "mad at the world." One witness told reporters that Williams shouted, "I told you people about f***ing with me," before he opened fire.

Mississippi law prohibits the disclosure of the identities of concealed weapons permit holders to anyone other than law enforcement officers engaged in the official performance of their duties, so there is no way to know whether any of the Lockheed Martin employees present when the shooting took place had such permits. Unlike Massachusetts, however, Mississippi has a "shall issue" law, meaning the Department of Public Safety there is required to issue a concealed weapons permit to any state resident who fulfills the training requirements and has not been convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor.

But even if one or more of the LMAC employees had completed the requirements - classroom and firing range training, an FBI background check and been fingerprinted and photographed by the state police - to obtain a permit, their guns could not have helped stop Williams' murderous rampage.

"We have a strict policy that firearms are not permitted on any Lockheed Martin property," Grizzle said. "Obviously, with the exception of our security people...they are absolutely forbidden."

States allow private property owners to prohibit concealed carry

In every state that grants concealed weapons permits to private citizens - and the two states that require no such permits, Alaska and Vermont - private property owners may forbid permit holders from entering their property armed. Dr. John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns, believes companies that prohibit concealed carry should consider changing their policies.

"I understand people's desire to create these so-called 'gun free zones,'" Lott said. "The problem with it and the unintended consequences, though, are that the people who are likely to obey those rules are the law-abiding good citizens, who you don't have anything to worry about.

"Rather than creating safe zones for victims, I think you unintentionally create safe zones for those who are intent on trying to do the harm," Lott added.

To reinforce his point, Lott asks detractors to consider the possibility of a member of their family being stalked or threatened.

"Would you feel safer putting a sign up in front of your home that said, 'This home is a gun-free zone?'" Lott asks. "Would that make it less likely that they would attack you? I think most people have a pretty immediate reaction to that, realizing that it would be pretty counterproductive."

Lott believes prohibiting concealed weapons permit holders from bringing their firearms to work has the same effect.

"It encourages attacks to take place in those areas," Lott said.

Research shows so-called 'gun free zones' invite armed criminal attacks

That conclusion, Lott said, is not mere speculation. He and University of Chicago Professor William Landes studied "multiple victim public shootings" from 1977 through 1999 and reported the results in The Bias Against Guns.

"The normal types of law enforcement, where you impose penalties after the fact, aren't really relevant to a lot of these guys when they commit these crimes because they seem to have some expectation that there's a high probability that they are going to die," Lott explained.

In fact, in more than 70 percent of the rampage shootings studied, the criminal died at the scene, either from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or after being shot in self-defense by another civilian or law enforcement officer. The pair also examined 13 kinds of gun laws - including waiting periods, background checks, bans on so-called "assault weapons," etc. - and determined that passage of only one type of law yielded a reduction in such killing sprees.

"The only one that we found that had any impact was the passage of right to carry [concealed weapons] laws, and the effect was huge," Lott said. "After states passed right to carry laws, they saw about a 60 percent drop in the rate at which these attacks occurred and about a 78 percent drop in the rate at which people were either killed or injured in these attacks."

Police veterans, Second Amendment groups, support concealed carry at work

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, believes only a little common sense is needed to determine that an armed employee, trained to use a handgun lawfully and effectively in self-defense, can offer a better response to a violent assault in the workplace than an unarmed victim.

"If they have a gun, they're going to put it in their hand," Pratt said. "And, depending on how much training they've had, they're going to go out and confront the bad guy.

"But, in any case," Pratt continued, "if [the bad guy] finds them, he's going to have more trouble than he counted on."

Retired Capt. John Sigler was a full-time certified law enforcement officer and police firearms training instructor in Dover, Del., for "many, many, many years." He agrees with Lott and Pratt.

"The answer is obvious in a case where you have someone who is already trained and knowledgeable, who has voluntarily taken responsibility for his safety or her safety, as the case may be, by being a permit holder," said Sigler, now second vice president of the National Rifle Association.

Workplace violence prevention expert Madero, disagrees, and believes allowing employees with concealed weapons permits to arm themselves in the workplace would lead to disaster.

"While there may be some benefits, there are tremendous risks involved in having an armed employee population, or at least a partially armed employee population," Madero said.

Madero believes allowing trained, qualified employees, who have been screened by state police to carry firearms at work would result in minor arguments escalating into shootings. But Sigler believes the lo w frequency of arrests of concealed weapons permit holders for any offenses, compared to the general population, should allay such concerns.

"I think [Madero] really doesn't understand the nature of the individuals who take it upon themselves to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of others," Sigler said. "It's a shame that people like [Madero] do not understand the true nature of violence and the true nature of citizen action that the concealed carry permit holder probably understands better than he does."

Outcome of public rampage shootings altered by armed civilian response

In highlighting how a single armed victim could make a difference in a public shooting, Sigler recalled the Oct. 31, 2003, attack on an attorney outside the Van Nuys, Calif., courthouse. In that case, William Striler is accused of walking up to Simi Valley attorney Jerry Curry and shooting at him nearly a half-dozen times as onlookers watched helplessly. The entire incident was recorded by television cameras set up outside the courthouse to broadcast cove rage of the murder trial of actor Robert Blake.

"Had there been a permit holder there, one wonders whether that permit holder might have been able to stop that whole thing from escalating as far as it did," Sigler said. "The vast majority of concealed carry permit holders throughout the United States, as well as all of the prior law enforcement have the training that could have brought that incident, and other similar incidents in the workplace and in public places, to a halt before there was loss of life."

Unarmed and, therefore, unable to fight back effectively, Curry used his briefcase to try to deflect the bullets. When that didn't work, he tried to hide behind a tree, but was still severely wounded. Striler was tackled moments later as he walked past the television cameras, away from where Curry had collapsed from blood loss. Curry is still recovering from his wounds. Striler has been charged with attempted murder.

In contrast, Lott recalled the Oct. 1, 1997, shooting of two students at a high school in Pearl, Miss. Then 17-year-old Luke Woodham shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and a classmate and wounded seven others before being stopped by a faculty member who retrieved a handgun from his vehicle, which was parked off school property.

"An assistant principal there at the school had a handgun in his truck. He had a permit to carry a concealed handgun," Lott noted, adding that state law prohibits permit holders from carrying their weapons on school property. "[But] he was able to stop the shooter."

Woodham was later convicted on two counts of murder and seven counts of aggravated assault.

Lott noted another incident, in which two students, who retrieved their guns from their vehicles, stopped a rampage shooter from killing additional victims at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va. Three people were shot to death and six others wounded on Jan. 16, 2002, by 43-year-old Peter Odighizuma, a Nigerian student who had been suspended from the school earlier in the day.

Odighizuma was later declared mentally unfit to stand trial and ordered hospitalized in an effort to restore his mental competency.

Both the Mississippi and Virginia cases, Lott said, highlight another point he confirmed in his research.

"In those states that passed [right to carry laws], to the extent to which attacks still occur, they tended to be significantly related to the number of 'gun free zones' that were there," Lott explained, "and, also, they tended to be much more likely to take place in these particular areas, once they became 'gun free zones' as compared to other places.

"When the whole state, in some sense, was a 'gun free zone,' before they passed right to carry laws, you'd see a distribution across all sorts of places," Lott continued. "But it was much more narrowly concentrated in areas that were obviously 'gun free zones' after right to carry laws were passed and those places were given specific exemptions."

Public and private research indicates that firearms are used to stop crimes between 250,000 (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics) and 2.5 million (Florida State University criminology professor, Dr. Gary Kleck) times. Sigler says that statistical support, combined with the comparisons of various public shootings in which armed civilians either were or were not present, should convince employers to at least consider allowing employees who hold valid concealed weapons permits to carry their guns, out of sight, at work.

"Where the ability is there and the willingness is there," Sigler concluded, "it makes common sense to have concealed carry permit [holders] and prior law enforcement [personnel] who want to arm themselves, to protect themselves and to protect the workplace, to be allowed to do so."
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=\Nation\archive\200311\NAT20031118a.html

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spacemanspiff
November 19, 2003, 03:10 PM
'weapon-free workplaces' are a feel-good measure. i called this on some guy giving a lecture i attended for work recently, saying that 'anyone who is unstable and violent will bring a weapon in no matter what the workplace policy is'.

his response was 'well those types of unstable people have signs that can help predict their behavior. any supervisor who knows what to look for can identify them'.

well gee, that makes sense! :rolleyes:

CatsDieNow
November 19, 2003, 03:23 PM
On that Tuesday, Williams was attending one of the company's mandatory "workplace ethics" seminars.

The training referred to is a big joke. It involves role-playing. :rolleyes:

another okie
November 19, 2003, 07:19 PM
You could cite ten thousand studies all saying that it was a hundred times safer to let workers carry and companies still wouldn't allow it.

Why?

Insurance. Insurance is one of the most important factors in determining business behavior.

Lawsuits for damages due to on-the-job injuries are usually limited to workers' compensation, which provides for a limited and specific amount of damages. Lawsuits for damages to non-employees are not limited in this way, and can usually proceed in regular courts.

If outsider A or worker B shoots worker C, worker C is going to get a small sum of money from workers' compensation.

If worker B, in violation of a company rule, shoots outsider A, the company is probably not going to be held responsible.

If worker B, carrying under a workplace policy, shoots outsider A, the company is probably going to be held responsible. The damages will probably be very, very large. Large enough to bankrupt the company.

So what are the odds? If you owned a company, the sensible thing to do would be to forbid your employees from carrying. If your employees are hurt or injured by someone, your workers' compensation pays a small amount and you are done. But if you allow guns and your workers should shoot someone, you are probably going to pay a very large amount of money to that person, whether the shooting was an accident or not.

What I'm trying to say is that arguments of probability are meaningless in this situation unless you multiply the percentage of incidents by the size of the lawsuit. I'm not sure Lott understands insurance, and economists generally are repelled and baffled by the court system, so maybe he doesn't get it.

If you don't like it, start your own company.

XLMiguel
November 19, 2003, 07:52 PM
'well those types of unstable people have signs that can help predict their behavior. any supervisor who knows what to look for can identify them'.

Yeah, right, that worked real well, didn't it. So, dood, why wasn't the supervisor trained??? How would he tell it wasn't just too much coffee and a bad attitude?? Does this mean it's the company's responsibility to look out for all the employees???

Funny how being 'law abiding' can get you killed.

Okie's right, though, it's 'insurance'. I wonder if a company's weapons policy simply said that all employees are expected to follow the state's weapons laws, those in viloation may be disciplined or discharged . . . vs "no weapons", what would the liability be? But that might involve discretion and judgment on the part of management, and I suspect that the private sector is at least as gutless as the public sector:barf: :barf: :barf:

greyhound
November 19, 2003, 08:06 PM
You could cite ten thousand studies all saying that it was a hundred times safer to let workers carry and companies still wouldn't allow it.

100% correct. Any company that has any kind of liability insurance is never going to allow CCW.

On the one in a million chance that there is an actual accidental discharge shooting or something.

Now, my question would be, what if they so not address the issue (i.e. neither advocate or prohibit) in a shall issue CCW state, what is their liability?

TallPine
November 19, 2003, 08:34 PM
So it's okay for people to get killed as long as the company doesn't have to pay for it ...?

Reminds me of the old story of the railroad worker that got blown up into the air by dynamite - the foreman instructed the paymaster to dock the injured man's pay for the time he was up in the air.

Standing Wolf
November 19, 2003, 08:36 PM
I've heard jobs are easier to replace than lives. I don't know whether that's true, since I've never tried to replace my life.

JohnKSa
November 20, 2003, 12:07 AM
All about $$$$$$$$$.

As long as our courts (JURIES) are willing to return absurd verdicts in lawsuits, this is going to happen.

Witness the jury in Florida who was willing to award a settlement from a gun company to a shooting victim's relative even though the gun company didn't even make the gun in question.

PrudentGT
November 20, 2003, 01:48 AM
Workplace violence prevention expert Madero disagrees, and believes allowing employees with concealed weapons permits to arm themselves in the workplace would lead to disaster.

I for one am sick and tired of all the massacres that daily take place in police briefing rooms, FBI field offices, and army barracks across the country. :rolleyes:

Doesn't a provision of Texas' 30.06 law mandate that businesses that post 'the sign' are liable for the safety of everyone on the premises? That would be an appropriate way to reflect the reality of the situation when it comes to insurance: "Oh, you prohibit firearms in the workplace? I'm sorry, your premiums will be 800% higher than the quote I gave you earlier..."

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
November 20, 2003, 02:02 AM
nope, section 30.06 makes no requirement for a premesis to 'provide a safe environment'. The only time I know anyplace is safe is when I am there with my concealed weapon.

My corner convenience store folks love to see me come in the door, and it's not because I spend a lot of money there.

Regards,
Rabbit.

enfield
November 20, 2003, 09:07 AM
A flaw I see in the article is that it implies (Pratt comes right out and states it) that armed employees can be expected to step in and protect others during an attack in the workplace.

I am not an unpaid cop.

I don't want to be a cop.

I don't have the training, and I don't have immunity from lawsuits.

I don't know what I'd do in a workplace scenario, but I guarantee I'd think first of myself and my family.

I expect myself to step up and protect myself -- others, on the other hand, may well be on their own.

Teufelhunden
November 20, 2003, 09:12 AM
Doesn't a provision of Texas' 30.06 law mandate that businesses that post 'the sign' are liable for the safety of everyone on the premises? That would be an appropriate way to reflect the reality of the situation when it comes to insurance: "Oh, you prohibit firearms in the workplace? I'm sorry, your premiums will be 800% higher than the quote I gave you earlier..."

Interesting concept though...I for one would love to see places that prohibit me from providing for my own security be liable for any damages caused to me by preventable criminal action while on their property. A mall I used to go to when I still lived in SW Virginia prohibited CCW, and didn't arm their security officers--who'd step up if the SHTF? I tried not to spend too much time there...

-Teuf

Waitone
November 20, 2003, 11:07 AM
It ain't about insurance. It's all about litigation.

If I walk into a grocery store and slip on a grape, I can sue the store for not providing a safe environment.

If I slip on that same grape in the break room I can get workmans's comp. There is also a reasonable probability I could successfully file a civil suit for damages.

I have no problem with an employer forbiding the carrying of carrying concealed weapons and thereby prohibiting said employee from defending himself. That's the way private property is. That said I fully expect the employer to face the same litigation potential for not providing a safe workplace. Yes the company can write its own rule, but at the same time a company should be held accountable.

One or two good lawsuits will change a lot of this hocus-pocus about guns in the workplace.

BTW, in the Mississippi shooting I read an article that one of the wound victims got a hand shot up because he triend to take the weapon out of the preprs hand during the shooting. If so, how different would the story be if he had a concealed weapon?

BluesBear
November 20, 2003, 10:25 PM
Then we must outlaw those dangerous grapes. My gosh what if a CHILD slipped on one?

When we finallyare able to totally outlaw grapes our chilren will then be safe and our insurance will be cheaper.

Zundfolge
November 20, 2003, 10:50 PM
You could cite ten thousand studies all saying that it was a hundred times safer to let workers carry and companies still wouldn't allow it.

Why?

Insurance. Insurance is one of the most important factors in determining business behavior.


I agree ... which is why businesses who have policies against licensed carry need to be hit with law suits whenever anything happens. Private property owners should be free to decide weather they want firearms on their property or not ... but if they forbid their employees from carrying then they should pay heavy concequences for it should an employee ever need their gun and its at home.

It ain't about insurance. It's all about litigation.
The two go hand in hand because if a company gets sued, their insurance company is usualy also drug into court with them.

The company I work for has no policy concerning firearms ... which is fine by me because if they ever found out I carried at work it would be because a situation arose that required me to draw. If they did put forth a policy against licensed carry then I'd violate it. Concealed means concealed and again, if I needed my gun I wouldn't give a rats hindquarters about weather I kept my job or not afterward.

Frohickey
November 20, 2003, 11:07 PM
What I'm trying to say is that arguments of probability are meaningless in this situation unless you multiply the percentage of incidents by the size of the lawsuit. I'm not sure Lott understands insurance, and economists generally are repelled and baffled by the court system, so maybe he doesn't get it.

Dr John Lott Jr is an economist. He might not know about the insurance company aspects, or he might not be quoted for the insurance company aspects of workplace weapons policies.

Smurfslayer
November 21, 2003, 04:24 PM
stories. Has any employer, ever, anywhere, actually been "bankrupted", I'll even settle for sued successfully, for a shooting by a licensee, permit holder or the like?

I am not saying it's never happened, but I am challenging for proof.

JohnKSa
November 21, 2003, 05:21 PM
Smurfslayer,

Yes,

Circumstances.

Employee was on company travel. It was known to his supervisors that he was carrying a firearm. Due to the location and nature of the travel this was accepted implicitly but not, strictly speaking, company policy.

While in his hotel room, the employee had a negligent discharge killing an occupant in an adjacent room.

He was not charged as no negligence could be proved and because it was legal for him to possess the firearm.

The relatives of the victim sued the company, not the shooter and were awarded a multimillion dollar out of court settlement.

I know the shooter personally--FWIW he still works for the company.

Monkeyleg
November 21, 2003, 05:39 PM
Reading the above posts, I'm surprised that more states don't have provisions in their CCW bills giving immunity to employers who allow carry, and making those who prohibit liable. I'm not an attorney, but these two sections of WI's proposed CCW bill would seem to do that:

(c) A business or a nonprofit organization that permits a person to carry a
concealed weapon on property that it owns or occupies is immune from any liability
arising from its decision to do so, if done in good faith.
(d) An employer that permits any of its employees to carry a concealed weapon
under sub. (15m) is immune from any liability arising from its decision to do so, if
done in good faith.

P95Carry
November 21, 2003, 05:45 PM
The companies and organizations we work with, they primarily say the best thing is no weapons." Of course they do .... in their idealistic little comfort zone!! So - are they gonna have metal detectors and staff to man them, at ALL entrances and exits, ALL the time .. to ensure that a BG also does NOT carry in a weapon?? Hmmm??

It's all or nothing Mr Company Boss .... look at the practical realities for a change. REAL world.

Frohickey
November 21, 2003, 07:52 PM
Lawyers always sue the party with the deep pockets. Why sue the guy that had the negligent discharge? He doesn't have deep pockets. The company on the other hand, has deep pockets. If you are going to sue, and are going to go in front of a jury, its easier to convince 12 people that the big bad company with deep pockets should be punished, instead of the other guy with the pistol. Just reality. Not saying that its correct, but its reality.

As to immunity for places that permit carry, and liability for ones that prohibit, I remember reading an Arizona bill that was going to do just that. Don't know whatever happened to it.

Anyone in Arizona know?

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