Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mixed News For Those That Want the Right To Pack Heat At Work

Although Oklahoma has passed, and Texas is considering legislation limiting employers' ability to ban weapons which would otherwise be lawful under each state's concealed gun laws, a recent study claims that doing so would increase the risk of homicide in the workplace. According to Dana Loomis, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, "there was a nearly sevenfold increase in the risk of a worker being killed in workplaces that allowed guns and other weapons." You can check out the story, Homicides More Likely at Workplaces That Allow Guns at the website. Thanks to the folks at the Daily Labor Report for the tip to the story.

The proposed Texas law, H.B. 79 which has been reported out of committee, would still permit an employer to ban guns from its "premises", but not from keeping guns in a locked vehicle, unless the vehicle is going to be parked in a garage or lot that is fenced in, not open to the public and guarded by security personnel. Interestingly, the bill does not provide the "guarded lot" exception for public employers. The legislation also has language protecting employers from liability in a civil action because of an occurrence inolving a handgun carried by someone licensed under this chapter.

Although I am certain employers will be happy to avoid liability, they are probably more likely to be concerned about the life of their workers if Dr. Loomis' data is correct. To be fair, it is unclear whether Dr. Loomis study dealt with an unrestricted right to bring guns on an employer's premises or also included workplaces where guns were allowed to be kept in locked cars. Something I am sure the Texas legislature will check out before going forward (he said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

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