By: Jasmine Watts
“As of November 1, 2011, in Wisconsin, it’s legal for individuals over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon anywhere, except for school zones, police stations, penal institutions, courthouses, government offices with screening devices, and areas of airports beyond security checkpoints. As one can see, places of employment were not mentioned; although, this law also affects workplace policies as well. Employers, for instance, may prohibit employees from carrying weapons while they are working, (on-site and/or off-site). However, an employer cannot prevent employees from having weapons in the parking lot of the workplace and/or in their own personal vehicle, (including a company car). Furthermore, an employer cannot require a worker to stop carrying a weapon, as a condition of employment” (1).
Given this, imagine that you work in Wisconsin and you have just received this information. How would you react? Would you be okay with it? In my own personal opinion, I believe this has the potential to be highly dangerous, and I would be totally against it. One reason for this is because, through psychology, it was found that having guns anywhere, including in or around the workplace, could be a possible trigger or cue for aggression; “aggressive cues are external stimuli that are associated with aggression and can increase the probability of its occurrence”(2). Thus, the mere sight of a firearm can increase the likelihood of an aggressive incident occurring. This became known as “The Weapons Effect” and this concept has a good amount of evidence that supports it. “Doob and Gross (1968), [for instance], found that the presence of weapons in the rear window of a car blocking traffic augmented aggression” (2).
This being said, it’s not a far stretch to realize that restricting guns can have the opposite effect and actually assist in decreasing aggression. “In 1974, [for instance], Jamaica passed laws banning civilian-owned firearms. In the one-year period after the laws went into effect, there was a 14% reduction in homicides, a 32% decrease in rapes, a 25% decline in robberies, and a 37% reduction in non-fatal shootings” (2). Therefore, although it isn’t for certain, it appears that the presence of guns can breed the presence of aggression. Consequently, firearms should not be allowed in the workplace. If anything, they should be banned, due to the horrific dangers they can cause. Not only can someone’s life be taken, but a gun in the workplace can also cause high levels of anxiety. For instance, if there is a security guard in your workplace who carries a gun, you would most likely feel safe because he/she is trained to use a gun and, essentially, knows what he/she is doing. However, if your “crazy” co-worker, who works in the cubicle next to you, brings a gun to work everyday, you may not feel very safe. If anything, you may feel unsafe, which would cause a good amount of stress and anxiety. That being said, however, since Wisconsin passed it as a law, there isn’t much employers can do to completely prevent the carrying of firearms in or around their workplaces. However, there may be ways to assist in preventing it.
One thing employers can do, for instance, is to recruit and hire individuals who not only have the skills and/or abilities to do the job, but are also opposed to having guns in the workplace. This way, the number of employees who support the idea of carrying a gun in the workplace would be lower. Additionally, employers could set up a meeting of some sort with the employees in their organization where they could explain the dangers of having guns in the workplace, with supporting evidence. These meetings could, hopefully, assist in changing the minds of some workers who may be in favor of carrying a firearm to the workplace.
Overall, I believe allowing guns in the workplace is very dangerous and can lead to numerous problems. I can’t even think of a legitimate/good reason to bring a gun to a workplace, unless it is part of your job description (e.g., police officer). If a person decides to bring a gun to their workplace, it’s usually not good news. Thus, although it may be difficult since it is legal in Wisconsin, I believe employers should do everything possible to keep guns away from their workplaces altogether.
(1) “New ‘Concealed Carry’ Gun Law in Effect in Wisconsin” (Source)
(2) “Guns and Aggression” (Source)