Concealed Carry for County Employees?

The following article originally was published on March 16, 2009, by Grand Junction’s Free Press.

Rowland suggests county employees carry concealed handguns

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

Recently County Commissioner Janet Rowland suggested that county employees might carry concealed handguns to improve security at the old county courthouse.

Our friends at the Daily Sentinel said in a March 2 editorial that her “shoot-from-the-hip solution” “deserves to be shot down.” We retort that the editorial is way off target.

We’re still not sure Rowland has forgiven us for our 2006 column razzing her for wondering if gay marriage might open the door to allowing “a man to marry a sheep.” However, we point out, if sheep could handle defensive weapons, the wolves might not be so eager to attack.

The Sentinel doubts that concealed guns would have helped in a recent event: “An angry county resident confronted a clerk in the county administration area of the old courthouse and made the clerk feel threatened. If the clerk had a concealed-carry permit, would… she have drawn her weapon and commanded, ‘On the floor, dirtbag. You’re out of line!’ to the angry resident?”

Obviously the Sentinel’s editorial writers need a first-time or refresher course on defensive firearms. One draws a concealed gun only when in mortal danger. A county employee who behaved as the Sentinel suggests would be fired (or worse).

Your elder author, an employer for many years, learned quickly that employees bring their backgrounds to work with them. Those trained in defensive firearm use are not only better shots, they are better able to handle all sorts of emergency situations appropriately, almost always without involving a gun.

Somebody who mortally threatens another usually believes he can overpower his victim. What concealed carry does is give the victim a chance to be something other than a defenseless sheep.

Nearly forty percent of the students in firearms classes in the Grand Valley are women. Many are single moms, many are divorced, many travel alone on the highways, many have husbands who must leave town for work. The women taking firearms classes have their own reasons.

According to Pinkerton surveys of corporate security professionals, homicide is a leading cause of workplace deaths, particularly for women. In most cases women murdered at work are victims of someone other than current or former romantic partners. Even more women are beaten, raped, or assaulted on the job.

Outside of work, some women are threatened or stalked by former boyfriends or spouses. People who carry a concealed gun to and from work do so for their own safety and protection. Once at work, locking the firearm in the car may not be the best way to safely secure or store the firearm. For somebody facing a real and known threat, what does the potential victim do walking to and from their vehicle?

We seem to have forgotten that a few dollars’ worth of box cutters killed over three thousand Americans. The next time you are at work, sitting at your desk, think of the items within arm’s reach that could be used as weapons. Pens and pencils. Large paper weights and other blunt objects. Sharp edges and corners. Broken glass. Fists. No metal detector is going to stop all “weapons” from coming into any workplace.

No, we’re not trying to promote paranoia. Most of us will never be brutally attacked. Yet we buy life insurance even when we don’t expect to keel over. Most of us do not think twice about putting our seat belt on when we enter our automobiles. We just feel safer with the safety belt on, though none of us plans on getting into an auto accident. Many who carry concealed handguns feel the same way.

Picture yourself on the floor with some guy’s hands around your throat, choking the life out of you. We imagine the most comforting words you could possibly hear at that moment might come from the petite grandmother who has shared your office for the last ten years, as she draws her concealed gun and commands the attacker, “On the floor, dirtbag. You’re out of line!”

All businesses, not just the county court house, should be concerned about security. Even the Sentinel has taken a closer look at the matter, as is obvious if you approach the business’s front desk.

Unfortunately, many employers think first of purchasing stuff rather than training employees. Most businesses can’t install metal detectors, and we’re not sure they’d do much good even at the court house.

Some Colorado State agencies spend the time and money to train their employees in defensive firearms use. Your elder author has worked with Alon Stivi of Direct Measures to provide some of that training. Stivi points out that the goal is two-fold: to reduce the chances of becoming involved in a dangerous situation, and “to respond to violence or security threats without putting yourself at even greater risk.”

Rowland may not know much about sheep, but at least she’s thinking seriously about how to prevent government employees from falling prey to the wolves.