Weapons In The Workplace

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about weapons on campus:

Should the work place and higher education institutions have zero tolerance against carrying weapons or allow responsible employees or students to arm themselves for self-protection?

Signed, Unarmed and Alarmed

DearĀ Unarmed and Alarmed:

In light of the several incidents that made the term going postal part of our vocabulary and the rash of shootings in high schools that have occurred over the past several years and recently at Virginia Tech, you have good reason to pose this two-part question. Should there be zero tolerance for weapons within the workplace and educational institutions? My answer is absolutely Yes. I would even apply this to security officers at the gates corporation and to campus police; however, probably my opinion is not one that most others would hold for police. Moreover, I think that our country is at fault for allowing guns to be easily purchased and that we as a people ought to have the political will to confiscate all hand guns and have stringent control over when and where guns used for hunting are permitted and kept.

Let’s suppose that an opposite position were reasonable. If so, should not all teachers have a gun reachable in their desks? And should we not train our youth how to use and carry guns? In Preschool they could be taught how to care for a gun. In the early grades they could be required to pass a course in use of handguns. In middle school, they could be allowed to have one in their backpacks. In high school, students could have refresher courses and allowed to have them both within reach and also a second one in their cars. No student should have automatically firing weapons; however campus police should and they should be allowed to frisk students to make sure that they followed gun regulations. The same should apply to all workplaces. If weapons are necessary to protect one’s self, all managers should have one on their person and so should employees. Special training in handling and use of guns should be as common as it is to get an identification badge.

Unfortunately, it might be wise to have a trial period in which students and all employees entering school grounds must pass through metal detectors in a similar fashion that required before entering a plane. The same should apply to entering a workplace. I hope that your question will be one that generates serious conversation and answers that will make way for policies that prevent the loss of life and injury within educational institutions and places of work. Most of questions that come to us are prompted by a work specific incident or situation. I am curious what in your work or schooling situation motivated you to send your question. How long will it be before we humans learn how to prevent attacks on one another? Working, teaching, and studying are difficult enough without worrying about one’s safety.Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. This of course is my opinion only, and my associate Tina Lewis Rowe, who has a world of experience with police policies and practices, may have a different response to your questions, and if so, I invite her wisdom to add to my answer.

Addendum to Dr. Gorden’s response, by Tina Rowe: It usually surprises people to learn that, while I had a long career that involved wearing a weapon or carrying it, I am very much opposed to the possession of handguns or military type weapons by the public–which means I’m opposed to the sale of them too. I’m actually opposed to any kind of firearm, but the reality of hunting makes that view unrealistic, I suppose. Certainly even if weapons were not available, many criminals would still find weapons to use in crimes. But, many would not. Many others who are not yet classified as criminals but who want to commit crimes, would not have easy access to weapons.Few of the major crimes that have been committed with weapons in the last decade were purchased or used by known criminals. It is very unlikely that those people would have burglarized homes or stores to get a gun or rifle. They might have still committed a crime by using a knife, sword, or explosive device–but at least one less deadly weapon would have been available to them. Sadly, my opinion will not sway anyone. And, most of us are polarized on the subject. We can only use the best weapon at our disposal: Votes. Then, letters to those we elect, to remind them of why we voted for them.I hope that one day American citizens will look back on this era and recall that this was the time in which we finally realized that drastic changes in our laws and attitudes about firearms, were necessary.

William Gorden