There is always debate after a tragic school or workplace active shooter incident about employees wanting to take their protection into their own hands. Yes, certain states have laws which allow employees to have their firearms with them if they have completed the necessary background checks and training, and have acquired the required permits. On the other hand, companies and other organizations would prefer to have workplace violence policies which prohibit their employees from bringing guns on property, even locked in their car in the parking lot. So where should prudent workplace violence policies draw the line?
Practically speaking, when would an employee be in a realistic position to safely and effectively employ a weapon in an actual active shooter situation? What are the realities about firing a personal weapon accurately in a tense ‘combat’ situation and can the average citizen effectively engage a hostile shooter under those conditions without hurting any innocent bystanders or co-workers? Not easy questions to answer.
Let’s think about some realities and you can shape your own opinions.
- Companies and organizations need to develop proactive weapon restrictions as part of their workplace violence prevention policy. That policy has to take into account the local and state laws relative to each of their facilities when developing a company policy. An active shooter response plan should be part of this workplace violence policy. The active shooter response plan should dictate that the first reaction priority is to get out of the building during such an incident. The second response option is to hide quietly in a safe, locked and barricaded place. Only as a last resort should you engage the shooter in a fight for your life. Granted, at that point having your weapon would be useful. However, would everyone have that discipline to stick to the policy and get out first and not try to play hero, perhaps making matters worse for responding police?
- Do all private citizens/employees engage in combat shooting training to prepare themselves for the adrenalin, fear, tunnel vision, panic and confusion that will characterize an active shooter rampage? This type of defensive shooting is even a challenge for law enforcement professionals who do such training.
- What liabilities exist for the company, and the defending employee, if they engage a personal weapon defensively but miss and hit an innocent person nearby?
- If the weapon is going to be defensively used in an active shooter incident, it will have to be in a position to be reached quickly, not in a locked car in the parking lot. Thus, the weapon would have to be in the building. This however, represents a more significant risk on a daily basis for the business under normal conditions. What if another type of workplace violence incident is perpetrated simply because others know about that personal weapon in the workplace? And others will know about its presence.
- Personally, if I was the employee who could not get out and had to hide out, I would like to have my 9mm with me, if I did have to fight for my life, rather than makeshift weapons. However, I also feel confident in my training and level of shooting experience with my law enforcement and protective operations background. Still, the weapon wouldn’t do me much good if it wasn’t in my desk or close-by.
This may not be the most definitive advice, but I think it is helpful to consider these practical concerns when formulating your active shooter response plan as part of your larger workplace violence prevention plan.
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