One of the main problems with everyday carry is the limitations that are out of the gun owner’s control, making concealed carry at work a key consideration for the average open or concealed carrier.
Whether or not someone may carry a concealed handgun in the workplace is a matter of state legislation and/or workplace policy.
There are ways to approach this topic gracefully with your employer and to access state laws on the topic.
Workplace Concealed Carry Is A Toss Up When It Comes To Gun Laws
Bearing arms in the office — not to be confused with sun’s-out-guns-out short-sleeved tees on casual Fridays (lame joke, I know) — is a right in some states, a prohibition in others and a decision that’s left up to the employer in many.
Workplace concealed carry may also be delegated to just storing the handgun in a personal motor vehicle.
Note that employers may prohibit firearms in company vehicles that they own.
Because it’s a topic that varies across the U.S., here’s a Google pro-tip (if you already know this, just skip the next few paragraphs): search “[state name] concealed carry at work site:.gov” — or similar verbiage, and often state firearms authorities (departments of justice, state police, attorney general offices or other similar bodies) and concealed carry permit issuing authorities list state firearms statutes or FAQs which include firearms in the workplace.
The “site:.gov” will filter the results to show only .gov websites. Including quotes around “work” will filter results again to include results with the specific word within the quotation marks.
Is it going to yield the perfect answer right off the bat? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s a good start.
Or you could just chat with your HR department or direct supervisor, which will be a necessary step in the process no matter what.
But let’s take a look at some state laws for examples of how concealed carry in the workplace shows up in legislation.
Legislation on Concealed Carry in the Workplace
Kentucky affords employees the right to store firearms in their vehicle on employer property, but the employer may restrict their employee from doing so if they know the employee is prohibited by law from accessing firearms, according to KRS 237.106 (1) and (2)
237.106 Right of employees and other persons to possess firearms in vehicle —
Employer liable for denying right — Exceptions.
(1) No person, including but not limited to an employer, who is the owner, lessee, or
occupant of real property shall prohibit any person who is legally entitled to possess
a firearm from possessing a firearm, part of a firearm, ammunition, or ammunition
component in a vehicle on the property.
(2) A person, including but not limited to an employer, who owns, leases, or otherwise
occupies real property may prevent a person who is prohibited by state or federal
law from possessing a firearm or ammunition from possessing a firearm or
ammunition on the property.
(3) A firearm may be removed from the vehicle or handled in the case of self-defense,
defense of another, defense of property, or as authorized by the owner, lessee, or
occupant of the property.
(4) An employer that fires, disciplines, demotes, or otherwise punishes an employee
who is lawfully exercising a right guaranteed by this section and who is engaging in
conduct in compliance with this statute shall be liable in civil damages. An
employee may seek and the court shall grant an injunction against an employer who
is violating the provisions of this section when it is found that the employee is in
compliance with the provisions of this section.
(5) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any real property:
(a) Owned, leased, or occupied by the United States government, upon which the
possession or carrying of firearms is prohibited or controlled;
(b) Of a detention facility as defined in KRS 520.010; or
(c) Where a section of the Kentucky Revised Statutes specifically prohibits
possession or carrying of firearms on the property..
Maine has the same policy, according to MRS Title 26 Chapter 7 Subchapter 1 §600
§600. Concealed firearms in vehicles
1. Firearms in vehicles. An employer or an agent of an employer may not prohibit an employee who has a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm under Title 25, chapter 252 from keeping a firearm in the employee’s vehicle as long as the vehicle is locked and the firearm is not visible. This subsection applies to the State as an employer when a state employee’s vehicle is on property owned or leased by the State. This subsection does not authorize an employee or state employee to carry a firearm in a place where carrying a firearm is prohibited by law. For purposes of this section, “state employee” means an employee of the State within the executive branch, the legislative branch or the judicial branch performing services within the scope of that employee’s employment.
[ 2011, c. 537, §1 (AMD) .]
2. Immunity from liability. An employer or an agent of an employer may not be held liable in any civil action for damages, injury or death resulting from or arising out of another person’s actions involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored pursuant to this section, including, but not limited to, the theft of a firearm from an employee’s vehicle, unless the employer or an agent of the employer intentionally solicited or procured the other person’s injurious actions. Nothing in this section affects provisions in the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992.
[ 2011, c. 393, §1 (NEW) .]
In Kentucky, the firearm may be removed from the vehicle in cases of self-defense, and employers may be liable for civil damages if they fire, discipline, demote or punish an employee for storing a firearm in their vehicle.
Some might be wondering whether having a concealed carry permit or license will affect that, and if states require employers to take that into consideration.
Texas, for example, allows employers to prohibit weapons at work, but not within a vehicle on location, and this applies specifically to Texas concealed handgun license holders as well. Notice is posted with Section 30.06 signage.
Some states, like Michigan according to this public record document, restrict firearms in state-owned workplaces like agencies.
Appellate courts ruled in Washington State that employers, both public and private, may restrict employees from carrying weapons while on duty or in the workplace, according to case law generated from Cherry v. Municipality of Metro Seattle, Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association v. City of Sequim and Chan v. City of Seattle.
There are states that require signage to be posted, as in Illinois pursuant to 430 ILCS 66.
According to Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal apprehension permit to carry FAQ, employers may prohibit firearms on location as well.
Ohio Revised Codes touch on this as well in section 2923.126 (C) (1).Employers may restrict firearms on their property, even for concealed handgun license holders.
Generally speaking, it boils down to a property rights issue. States often only require employers not restrict firearms in employee motor vehicles.
How does one go about that conversation with an employer?
Talking With Your Boss About Concealed Carry At Work
There are vastly different opinions on how to speak to management about concealed carry at work.
Some argue that if there’s no official policy, then it should be full steam ahead. A concealed carry weapon shouldn’t be visible anyway until lawfully needed for self-defense, right?
Some disagree with that. Transparency and respectfully abiding by a property owner’s wishes will do more good for firearms owners by and large than willfully imposing your right to bear arms on them.
Many believe the issue should be solely up to the business owner’s discretion, and they should be able to enforce the business policies they deem appropriate.
The folks who write for this very blog don’t often bring up corporate policy, but this company has an upfront notice when hiring new employees: concealed carry is your right as an employee as long as you’re abiding by law. In fact, several conversations around the workplace revolve around everyday carry and range training.
Though, that shouldn’t come as a surprise at all, given our products, but it does serve an important example: have an honest chat with your employer if you’re concerned.
Chances are that the human resources department has given this a bit of thought already, as they are wont to do.
At the end of the day, the choice is up to the gun owner, but know that there are state laws and employer policies concerning concealed carry in the workplace.
About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys shooting pictures and ammunition outdoors.