Not having a workplace concealed carry policy in Wisconsin legally means you’re allowing everyone to carry a gun at work.
Consider your CC protocol carefully, including the various business ramifications of permitting or prohibiting it. My column in the April 12 issue dealt with active shooter policies at local businesses. This month’s focuses on important considerations for concealed carry policies at private businesses in Wisconsin.
Tom Grieve, of Grieve Law LLC, is a former state prosecutor and a subject matter legal expert who writes and speaks across Wisconsin and nationally on firearms and carry issues. He shares these top tips on what can get most businesses into trouble.
1. Don’t ignore the topic.
“Not having a CC policy, by default, means that you actually have a policy allowing everyone to carry,” Grieve said.
Is this your intention? Without a specific policy, and unless you are in a location or business type where state statute prohibits CC (schools, post offices, etc.), you’re giving your employees a green flag to bring firearms into your office.
Depending on your business type, employees and customers, that could be an accident waiting to happen – or an added layer of protection. For an in-depth look at these issues, check out the book, “Guns in the Workplace, A Manual for Private Sector Employers and Employees.” Author Chuck Klein addresses many workplace concealed carry topics at length.
2. Understand Wisconsin’s concealed carry laws.
“In Wisconsin, when a business or property owner allows individuals to conceal carry on their premises, they are protected from the liability arising from that decision from the Wisconsin concealed carry law at 175.60(21)(b),” Grieve said.
No one likes being sued, so keep that in mind when writing policies.
However, Grieve said, if businesses prohibit CC, they are “arguably warranting the safety of individuals on premises from violence. Therefore, they miss utilizing the liability shield by allowing concealed carry but are arguably inviting lawsuits in the event of an incident.”
That’s not the only problem business owners face.
Bob Anger, member/principal at Woller Anger Insurance LLC in Elm Grove, says the liability exposure increases “if you post that weapons cannot be brought onto the premises and you have a higher duty to offer protection.”
3. Have a clear plan.
Whether you permit or prohibit concealed carry, provide resources that protect your business, employees and visitors. One recommendation is to create and practice a Run/Hide/Fight-style active shooter policy explained in the April 12 column. Also, offer specific education to avoid common misinterpretation of Wisconsin CC laws such as whether employees can keep their guns on company property.
When permitting CC in the workplace, do general employment background checks and consider asking to see a valid CC license. Wisconsin’s CC permit process includes background checks and training requirements.
While an employer might not be able to mandate specific CC training, you could help your staff become familiar with basic firearm safety. Consider sharing educational resources such as those provided by the U.S. Concealed Carry Association. Located in West Bend, the USCCA provides individual insurance and numerous training programs with the mission “to help responsible Americans avoid danger, save lives and keep their families safe.”
If you prohibit CC in the workplace, provide additional protocols that demonstrate your desire to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of your employees and visitors. Examples include an armed guard, conspicuous signage throughout the premises, security dogs and metal detectors.
“It is unclear how far a business needs to go to provide reasonable measures of protection,” Grieve said. “This is an open question and an open risk right now that invites lawyers into your life if you prohibit carrying.”
Avoiding the topic puts everyone at risk.
“If everyone understood the concealed carry law, I would have probably half the clients from firearms issues,” Grieve said.
Acts of violence – whether committed by disgruntled employees, family members or completely unexpected attackers – are difficult to predict. Take proactive measures to address concealed carry in your workplace.
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