The Wisconsin State Legislature is on the verge of enacting a law that will allow Wisconsin residents to conceal and carry weapons.
The Senate approved a law Tuesday night that will give an incentive to employers who permit their employees to carry concealed weapons at work. An employer who does not prohibit its employees from carrying concealed weapons will be given immunity from any lawsuits for any liability arising from that decision.
BizTimes sent an e-mail to a wide variety of southeastern Wisconsin business executives, asking them to share their thoughts about the new law. We asked the executives the following questions:
(1) When the law is passed, will you carry a concealed weapon?
(2) Will you allow your employees, customers and vendors to carry concealed weapons at your business? Why or why not?
Several executives responded. We share their thoughts here to help all employers weighing their options as the bill becomes law.
Karen Vernal, president of Vernal Management Consultants LLC in Milwaukee, will not carry a concealed weapon or allow weapons on her premises. “I will not carry a concealed weapon, unconcealed, small, large, hand, foot, any kind of weapon. I will not allow anyone into our business with a weapon. This law continues to perpetuate what is already a tragedy in Milwaukee. Because of guns, far too many people die … Far too many family members, friends and neighbors. The only possibility that we have to reduce fatal violence within our community is to prohibit anyone from ‘bearing arms’ unless he or she is part of the police force serving our communities.”
Peter Ogden, president of Ogden & Company Inc., Milwaukee, said he will not carry a concealed weapon or allow his employees to carry weapons at work. “I am vehemently opposed to handguns in general. I definitely would not carry a concealed weapon, and I definitely would not allow my employees to carry concealed weapons. I would have no part of it. It’s a problem waiting to happen,” Ogden said.
Paul Riedl Jr., chief executive officer of River Run Computers in Glendale, said he will not carry a weapon and will not allow weapons at his business. “There is not a need in our office. We are in a secure part of the city and there are enough people in and out of our company to deter people from coming in to hold us up,” Riedl said.
H. Carl Mueller, president of Mueller Communications Inc., Milwaukee, said his company will not permit concealed weapons on the premises. “We already carry concealed weapons. We believe the pen is mightier than the sword, and we all carry pens. As for firearms, I asked the staff,and no one is interested in carrying concealed firearms. We will consider putting a sign on our door telling anyone who wishes to enter that we do not permit and firearms to be brought into our offices – concealed or otherwise. We also hope we won’t need such a sign.”
Mike Sweeney of Sweeney’s Gym in Milwaukee said he will not carry a concealed weapon and will not allow them at his business. “Bottom line is there is a big percent of people in this world that can’t handle more then one thing bad in their life at once, then add someone that internalizes things, and wow, we have a mess on our hands,” Sweeney said. “Being a 24/7 facility, with security, I feel my employees, clients and members are already well-protected and I would not want anyone to feel uncomfortable if someone had a gun with them. Our doors are locked and no one is able to access without a key card. I feel I would lose members and clients if I allowed people to carry a gun into my business.”
Jim Haertel, president of Brew City Redevelopment Group LLC in Milwaukee, said he will not carry a concealed weapon and will not permit weapons at his business. “I believe the more guns there are around, the greater the chance someone will use one,” Haertel said.
Joe Nolan, owner of Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee, said he will not carry a concealed weapon and will not permit them at his business. “I would not allow vendors, customers or employees to bring in a gun to our premises. The only legitimate reason I can think a gun would be needed is in the case of a robbery, and I would not want anyone to get shot should someone try to stop a robber. Money can be replaced, but not a life,” Nolan said.
Patti Genko, owner of Genko Communications, Brookfield, said she will not carry a concealed weapon and will not permit them at her business. “What purpose does this serve? There’s no need to carry concealed or unconcealed weapons in the business workplace. In my opinion, it can only lead to trouble not only in the workplace but in our everyday life. We have enough violence and tension in the world, and giving people the opportunity to carry concealed weapons in their day to day life is a disaster waiting to happen. I know many of those in law enforcement who work very hard and have enough anxiety in their jobs, without having this law passed," Genko said.
Jaime Maliszewski, president of RPW Inc., Milwaukee said “maybe” he will carry a concealed weapon. When asked about his workplace, he said, “Not in the plant. We have a very corrosive environment, and it would cause rust, and we are very safe from outside forces, and there is no need for protection, as only our people are allowed in the plant.”
Deeatra Kajfosz, president of Nalani Marketing & Sales in Menomonee Falls, said, “I have not committed either way to if I will or will not carry a concealed weapon. However I do believe it should be my choice to be made and not one that is inhibited by local, state, or national legislation … I will stand in favor or my employees, clients and vendors deciding for themselves if they will or will not carry a concealed weapon while in our office. I consider the Second Amendment a right to choose. For those who wish not to carry for their own personal reasons, I respect the choice they feel is right for them. Likewise, for a responsible individual who wishes to carry a concealed weapon and follows the legal guidelines to do so, I believe they deserve the respect as an American to make that choice.”
Jo Steinberg, president at Midland Health in Brookfield, said she has learned to use a firearm but does not expect to carry a concealed weapon. As for her employees, Steinberg said, "If the gun is concealed the only way I would know about it is if I installed a metal detector. I do not plan on doing that. I feel that my employees are of sound mind so if they are properly trained and the gun is registered I will not interfere if they choose to carry one. Some of my employees live in high crime areas. I would not blame them if they carried one to protect themselves. I would ask them to be safe and keep it concealed unless they thought someone’s life was being threatened. Bringing it to work for "show and tell" would not be appropriate."
Richard Pieper Sr., chairman of PPC Partners Ltd. in Milwaukee, said he will not carry a concealed weapon. "This is not a third world country spinning out of control. Personally, I think it is a hazard and invites problems. If it is legal, we will abide by the law, but likely ask all vendors and employees to understand the risks and the proper handling. We feel knowledge and critical thinking are essential to all safety issues and leading effective lives," Pieper said.
Mark Barr, president of Duraguard Services in Racine, said he will not carry a concealed weapon. "No, absolutely not. It is a step back 150 years," Barr said.
John Yentz, attorney at Schroeder Attorneys at Law in Waukesha, said he will not carry a concealed weapon and will not allow weapons at their office. “No. This is not the ‘Wild West.’ No. Should an individual bring a concealed weapon to our business location, we will require that the weapon be checked with the receptionist. If there are no weapons on the premises, there is no reason to carry a weapon. Our premises, our rules,” Yentz said.
David Kliber, owner of S-F Analytical Labs in New Berlin, says he will not carry a concealed weapon and will not allow his employees to carry weapons at his business. “No. I don’t own a gun. No. For safety reasons, although it will be hard to control vendors and customers, so we’ll have to think about them,” Kliber said.
Gary Billington, vice president at Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP in Milwaukee, says he will not carry a weapon and will not allow weapons at his company. “I am not a gun person. Never have been … probably never will be. I will not carry a weapon on me or in my car or in my home. If someone is going to shoot me I don’t think having a gun or not is really going to make a difference. In fact it might be a problem,” Billington said. “I am very close to the health care industry and know this is a concern with many of the hospital CEO’s I have spoken with. Guns in hospitals, in my opinion, is not a good thing. I don’t know if the incentive to allow guns in the regular workplace makes any sense at all. Why would you do that? Not sure it makes my business any safer? I respect and agree with the opinion of our Milwaukee Police Chief who has to deal with criminal behavior for a living … Why allow it? What useful purpose will it serve? Criminals can now conceal weapons legally? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Maybe I’m missing something?”
Nora Hauser, human resources director for R&R Insurance Services Inc. in Waukesha, says her company will not allow employees to carry weapons at work. “R&R Insurance currently has a policy banning weapons in the workplace. R&R would prefer to uphold that policy; as long as it still remains legally viable. In our minds this will continue to ensure a safe work environment. As we see it; there is no need to carry a concealed weapon in our office environment," Hauser said.
Bill Beckett, president of Chryspac in Milwaukee, will not allow weapons at his business. “We’ve have always had a no-weapons policy and will continue to do so. We would not retain an employee who brings a weapon into our workplace," Beckett said.
Readers at BizTimes.com were asked, "Will your company allow employees and customers to carry concealed weapons in the workplace? Seventy-four percent answered, "No," and 26 percent answered, "Yes."
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.