Should you allow employees to carry concealed weapons at work?
With the continued popularity and demand for our Active Shooter in the Long Term Care Environment training program, I receive calls and emails almost weekly from clients and conference attendees asking about employees who wish to carry a concealed firearm in the workplace. Just about every community and facility that I speak with has some employees with concealed carry permits who are offering to carry a concealed firearm in the workplace in order to respond in the event of an armed intruder. Sadly, there is no right or wrong way to handle these requests. In reality, myriad considerations that must be addressed in choosing the best decisions.
First and foremost, what does your state law allow? For example, in Illinois, Section 65(a)(7) of 430 ILCS 66 (Firearms Concealed Carry Act) reads “a licensee under this act shall not knowingly carry a firearm on or into any building, real property, and parking area under the control of the public or private hospital or hospital affiliates, mental health facility, or nursing home.” However, the Illinois’ statute does not prescribe how to address the subject of concealed carry permits in independent living or assisted living communities. And, what happens at a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), where all levels of care are represented on the same campus property? In other states, including Arizona, there are no restrictions for concealed carry in healthcare facilities.
So a few of your employees have concealed carry permits. Yippee Skippy! Having a permit means that the permittee has met the minimum qualifications established by a group of politicians to allow them to carry a concealed firearm. Nothing more.
For example, I have a concealed carry permit issued by the State of Illinois. This past February, I took a 16-hour course taught by an instructor authorized by the state. This included going to the firing range and meeting the established requisites to qualify. After completing the course and being subject to the required background checks, a couple of months later, I received my concealed permit. Since then, I have fired a handgun one time for a total of four rounds.
While Illinois law says I am legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm, the reality is that I would need more competency-based training to become proficient with that firearm in my hands.
So, in terms of risk management, having the permit is not enough. If you are going to allow your employees to carry a concealed firearm in the workplace, you should establish minimum training standards, provide supporting documentation and require ongoing continuing training. The last thing anyone wants is for an unqualified employee to accidentally shoot an innocent person.
The time to find out that your liability coverage does not allow an employee to carry a concealed weapon is not after shots have been fired. Before you develop policies allowing your employees to carry a concealed firearm, consult with your insurance agent or broker to determine what coverage your current policies provide and to explore any exclusions that may apply.
In addition, your liability policy is designed to protect the facility or community from loss. It is not designed to protect the employee. No one wants an employee to be left uncovered, so we recommend that facilities require proof that firearms-carrying employees have their own liability insurance for the use of concealed firearms—with a minimum of $1 million in coverage—and that the facility or community is named as an additional insured.
Public safety issues
During an active shooter event, police may or may not have a description of the armed intruder, who may try to “dress to fit in.” As a result, during a tense situation, it’s definitely possible that police could confuse the armed employee with the armed intruder, perhaps with catastrophic outcomes.
Should you decide to allow your employees to carry concealed firearms, it is critical that you reach out to your local law enforcement agencies to discuss and plan protocols and response guidelines.
Trying to decide whether to allow employees to carry concealed weapons in the workplace is not easy. But in this case, the variables outweigh the constants. The facility’s legal counsel, board and insurer will all have input into the decision, as will the facility’s mission and values. Should you decide to move forward in allowing employees to carry concealed firearms, make sure you work with all of these entities to establish a program that is based on legal compliance, competency requirements and diligent recordkeeping.
Stay safe and stay in touch!
Steve Wilder, CHSP, STS, is president and chief operating officer of Sorensen, Wilder & Associates (SWA), a healthcare safety and security consulting group based in Bourbonnais, Ill. SWA performs workplace safety compliance audits and security vulnerability assessments in all types of healthcare facilities. Wilder can be reached at (800) 568-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topics: Executive Leadership , Regulatory Compliance , Risk Management