It’s every employer’s worst nightmare. An angry employee with a gun takes out his revenge on a boss, coworkers or both.
In 2012, Andrew J. Engeldinger did it when he killed five and injured three after being fired from his job at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis. Lawrence Jones did it when he killed two coworkers and wounded two others at a Fresno chicken processing plant the same year. In 2011, Rocky T. Christian, did it when he shot and killed his boss at Build Direct Floor, LLC in Apopka, Florida. This summer in Chicago, Tony DeFrances, a chief technology officer for ArrowStream, also brouht his gun to work and shot the CEO in the head and stomach. Hey, he was mad!
In 2012, 375 employees were shot and killed on the job, says the Department of Labor. If you are an employee, you are five times as likely to be shot to death at work if your employer allows guns says an American Journal of Public Health study.
Gun advocates have pushed through laws letting people bring their guns to work, storing them in their cars, in 22 states. The NRA says an Alabama version of the law, which went into effect last summer, “extends the current Castle Doctrine to include places of business to ensure the right of self-defense does not end when you enter your business.”
Employers see it differently. “Allowing employees to have near, immediate access to firearms, at work, creates an element of risk that is unacceptable,” said Mark Hogan, FedEx’s vice president for security, in testimony in 2012 before Tennessee lawmakers. “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,” says Hogan. Volkswagen, Caterpillar and Bridgestone joined FedEx in opposing the expansionistic gun laws.
Forcing property owners to allow guns is so intrusive, even an NRA member objected when the laws began surfacing eight years ago. Bob Thornton, a former liquor store owner, actually heckled NRA leader Wayne LaPierre at an Atlanta news conference which announced the campaign. “I really object to the government getting involved to say what’s allowed on my property,” he said, sporting a “Wayne Never Asked Me” T-shirt.
Joe Fleming, senior vice president for government affairs at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce agreed in a 2008 newspaper oped. The NRA has “threatened all Georgia senators who fail to fall on bended knee with ‘F’s’ on the next NRA re-election scorecard,” he wrote. “Those senators who don’t succumb to the NRA’s bully-tactics, name-calling, temper tantrums, insults and lies will be subjected to election-year retaliation.” The Florida Retail Federation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida also opposed the coercive gun laws which force property owners to take on risks not their own.
As always, the NRA tries to make gun carriers victims instead of aggressors. Banning weapons on parking lots “is a wrecking ball for the Second Amendment,” pronounced Wayne LaPierre. “It’s also a blueprint for totally eviscerating and nullifying right-to-carry legislation in 38 states in our country,” because despite the “constitutional right to have a firearm” carriers “couldn’t stop anywhere.”
Of course safety and insurance-minded property owners say that is exactly the point. Like cigarettes, you can have your gun at home but don’t even think of bringing it in here. Why should employees and customers be exposed to a 500 percent increase in their gunshot risk because carriers are afraid to go places without their guns? Lawmaker may be muzzled by the gun lobby but corporations aren’t.
Tell corporate America to get off the gun violence “sidelines.” Join our action against TrackingPoint’s sniper weapons and Hallmark, the only major corporation that has publicly sworn it will never support anti-gun initiatives. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws.