Employers, Guns and the Second Amendment

Washington Matters

Employers, Guns and the Second Amendment

With more workers getting laid off or forced into furloughs -- to say nothing of the stress from home over unpaid bills and rising health care -- it's no wonder that workplace violence is a growing concern of employers.  Many are offering more counseling and at a minimum, they want workers to leave their guns at home. Too bad that in several states, that rule is against the law.

Businesses are increasingly alarmed at a growing trend: State lawmakers are prohibiting employers from banning guns in the workplace, putting concerns over  the Second Amendment right to bear arms ahead of the fears of company executives. Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky. Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma have all enacted laws that tie employers' hands. Similar bills are pending in Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. A big supporter, of course, is the National Rifle Association.

The laws differ in how far they go, but at a minimum they allow workers to keep guns locked up in their cars, even in company parking lots, as long as they are legally owned. Never mind that a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2005 found that homicides were five times more likely at workplaces when guns are allowed in the vicinity.

On top of the fear of violence, employers also have to worry about lawsuits. Most of the laws include provisions to give gun owners the right to sue if they feel they've been discriminated against in hiring or firing. If a worker walks into a job interview with a gun on his hip, employers will have to be careful in more ways than one.