I was at a dinner Wednesday night when I got into an animated discussion about gun control with a lawyer in our group. Someone had made a comment regarding guns, and the conversation soon turned to the topic of arming school teachers. Our lawyer friend did not seem to agree with the concept, and the conversation expanded to the proliferation, usefulness and danger of guns in general.
I know this will shock no one, but I am firmly in the pro-gun camp, and believe that where there is an increase in trained and legal gun owners you will find a corresponding drop in violence and crime. The state of Utah has allowed teachers to be armed for over 10 years. During those 10 years the state has had zero fatal school shootings. Nada. None. I argued, as I have written in the past, that the naive emphasis on creating "gun free zones" only creates tempting targets for evil people in our world.
My lawyer friend, while claiming not to be "anti-gun", did not like that concept. He also lambasted the NRA and referred several times to countries where gun laws are strict and crimes are reportedly low. During this discussion, I asked why we did not regulate knives or other dangerous items; asking why guns were routinely singled out as the source of violent evil? The response I received was a definitive snort of derision, as if to indicate that I was being ridiculous with the question.
Then came Friday, and a mad man, a terrorist quite frankly, stabbed and beheaded a co-worker and seriously wounded a second while on a rampage through the Oklahoma food processing facility from which he had just been terminated. The casualties would have been more numerous, too, had the man not encountered the company's CEO. The company's armed CEO. With three simple gunshots, the mans reign of terror stopped almost as quickly as it began.
I'm probably not the only one thankful that Vaughn Foods was not a "gun free zone".
I might have been ridiculous with my "knife regulating" comparison, but Friday's terrible attack demonstrated my point. A crazy person wielding any weapon can cause significant harm in the workplace, and the absence of effective counter measures only means that the damage they can inflict will be amplified by the absence of same. I certainly understand employers not wanting all employees carrying guns, but an absolute prohibition means that employees are exposed in the event of an attack such as what occurred Friday.
Employers must strike a balance in their policies that provide for the safest work environment possible for their employees. In the case of Vaughn Foods, the CEO is also a trained reserve Sheriffs Deputy. He was trained in the proper handling of his weapon as well as in addressing the situation overall. Not every company has that advantage. Still, we need to recognize that a dependency only on first responders means that lives are at risk during a violent attack in the workplace. Employers should consider alternatives that would accommodate a better front line defense for their personnel.
No matter what they ultimately decide, they should realize that a wholesale ban on guns creating a "gun free zone" does not insure their employees are safe. In fact, when something does go seriously awry, quite the opposite will be proven to be the case.
But for the Oklahoma incident anyway, we can certainly say "Thank God someone was armed in the workplace".
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