Weapons in the Workplace: Legal Right or Liability?
Let me start by saying I know the issue of personal defense and safety is a hot button issue. I am well aware that most people are passionately on one side of the argument or the other. In fact, I’ve been on both sides. As I’ve researched and interviewed, the issue of personal defense in the workplace has proven to be a complicated one. I could go on for a long time, but I want to focus specifically on the jobsite aspect of personal defense. For the project manager, contractor, or tradesman that doesn’t feel safe waiting for local law enforcement to respond, what are some reasonable options?
Personal Defense Mindset
There are several types of mindsets when it comes to personal defense no matter where it takes place. I’m of the opinion that defending myself is a last resort. I’d rather lose my tools and file an insurance claim than risk not coming home to my wife and children. I live in Florida, where Stand Your Ground gives us the right to defend ourselves and our property with deadly force. I chose to defend my life, the lives of my family, coworkers, and innocent bystanders only if there is no other solution.
There’s also the mindset of those that will only defend the lives of themselves and their family members. Some would rather wait for local law enforcement to arrive and not carry the burden at all. Those are perfectly okay! How you decide to respond is a personal choice.
The one that scares me is the superhero mentality. This guy or girl typically gets a concealed weapons permit (CWP) and starts looking for an excuse to use it. This is not someone I want to hang out with. Regardless, the only mindset you know for sure is your own. You’ve decided you want to be prepared. So how will you handle personal defense on the jobsite?
Personal Defense on the Jobsite: Concealed Weapons
Legally, concealed weapons can be many different tools. For the sake of this argument, let’s go with what most of you already assumed – a handgun. Many states make it very easy get a concealed weapons permit, citing the Second Amendment as the right to bear arms. In Georgia, for example, all you do is fill out the application, pay your money, and pass the background check. Here in Florida, we have to attend a basic firearms safety class first. Other states make you prove why you need to carry while others make it all but impossible.
For my money, carrying a handgun on the jobsite is the least reasonable solution. Before you accuse me of being anti-gun rights, let me explain. Typical construction work requires a lot of movement. Bending, stretching, PPE, and confined spaces don’t lend themselves to traditional concealed carry positions. Your options are pretty much limited to pocket pistols you can keep in a zipped pocket or a firmly strapped, deeply concealed holster. Either way, it hardly lends itself to the kind of quick access most concealed carriers prefer.
A subcompact pistol may seem like a reasonable option, but there’s one other thing that gets us here in Florida nearly all year long – sweat. Sorry, but I don’t really want to drench my Glock in salt water every day.
I would suggest that you carry your concealed handgun to the site, but leave it in your truck. Make sure it’s out of sight and be sure to lock it. Park where others will be able to see your vehicle easily. Seek another option to actually carry during work. Does it defeat the purpose of having the right to carry it? Yes. However, we’re talking about the trade offs so you can decide what the best option is in your case.
Early morning/late nights are a different ball game. If you’re on the jobsite by yourself, carry every time. Keep in mind the goal is personal defense and safety while not allowing your weapon to be a distraction – that’s why we keep them concealed.
Personal Defense on the Jobsite: Knives
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to deal with your right to carry a concealed firearm, personal defense gets a bit easier for coworkers and employers to swallow. Almost everyone carries an EDC knife to the jobsite as it is. I often carry my CRKT Outrage. Folding knives have some defensive capability along with their obvious uses, but a fixed blade knife is a bit better option. They still work very well for piercing and slicing applications. You can also get them small enough to avoid looking like Rambo. Options like CRKT’s Synergist (right) or Kershaw’s Secret Agent (below) are both excellent choices.
You’ll get a few looks and questions at first when people see a fixed blade on your belt instead of a folder’s clip in your pocket. They’ll get used to it pretty quickly once they see you using it for the same tasks though.
Personal Defense on the Jobsite: Tactical Pens
I used to wonder about the need for tactical pens when I first heard about them. Then I got my hands on one. Now my wife and I both carry them wherever we go. They’re a perfect solution to keep on you when you fly. They’re also an excellent way to carry a defensive weapon subtly.
Tactical pens are good for several things. First, the aluminum or titanium is very rigid. You can use the capped pen to easily put a lot of force on a pressure point. They’re also useful as a blunt instrument that lets a potential assailant know you have the will and ability to defend yourself. They typically feature a glass breaker that doubles as a piercing point should you need to use it like a knife.
The best part? They write really well! Zero Tolerance (below) uses Parker and Fisher Space Pen refills in their tactical pen while CRKT (right) uses a proprietary refill for their Tao models. You can buy yourself a nice pen from Cross or Parker, or you can get one that writes just as well and serves you in other ways. With a little bit of training, the tactical pen is a solid defensive tool.
Personal defense is a personal choice. With the increased amount of theft on the jobsite, there’s a chance that you’re going to come across someone with malicious intent sooner or later. We advocate avoiding and diffusing the situation as the best practice while letting law enforcement do what they are trained to. In the event that you are forced to defend yourself, it’s important to consider how you will do that.
There is a ton more to think about than just what we’ve discussed here. My hope is just to get you thinking about what is reasonable given the job and the conditions. Carrying any kind of weapon, even a hammer, brings with it awesome responsibility as soon as it becomes a tool for defense. It’s your responsibility to know what you are safely able to handle within the constraints of the law and the job.
Be sure you know your local and state laws as well as your company’s policies before deciding how you want to handle personal defense. Talk to you employer about any concerns you have. If you’re an employer, be open to having the conversation with a concerned employee. The most dangerous weapon you carry is the one inside your head. Your ability to plan ahead and know how you will react will ensure you come home to your family at the end of the day.