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Should Coworkers and Customers Carry Guns?

Yesterday, at the request of BNET's editors, I posted a list of instructions of how to prepare for a workplace shooting and what to do if something like that happens. I based the post on discussions with a couple of experts, leavened with a little common sense.

However, a number of readers suggested that it would be better solution simply to carry a gun to work, and if somebody else starts shooting, pull out your own weapon and "take him out." I'm interested what you guys think, so here's a poll. Click on the link for my opinion.


Click here for my opinion on this subject. »
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My opinion is: the more guns in the workplace, more likely it is for something to go fatally wrong.

I'm not talking about second amendment rights. I'm talking about most people's ability to act in a generally sane manner, and their ability to make good decisions under pressure.

Over the years, I've gotten at least a dozen emails and comments about co-workers and customers completely going nuts, yelling, screaming, throwing things, and other kinds of aggressive behavior.

The last thing I want is to have some in-house rage-aholic have access to a firearm. That's just asking for trouble.

Of course, those who think having everyone armed is a good idea have the fantasy that, when Joe Volcano goes postal, they're going to "take him down."

That's nuts. I do not trust my coworkers to make a good decision about what kind of coffee to buy for the break room. I certainly do not trust them to make a life and death decision when bullets are flying.

Think how long they train law enforcement officials and they still make serious mistakes. The fact that you've spent some time at the shooting range doesn't fill me with much confidence.

If a random coworker is shooting a gun, I do not want some other coworker to start shooting, too. I think it's just as likely that the second coworker will hit me instead.

Now let's suppose EVERYBODY is armed, and one person starts shooting and then you try to "take him out." Don't you think somebody might just possibly think that YOU are the bad guy... and start shooting at you?

Think for a second. You've been in meetings with these people, watching them trying to make decisions. Do you really think they're going to make the right decision, in an instant, when bullets are flying?

A comment on the original post said I "might end up thanking" somebody for taking out a shooter.

Uh, no. Unless you are a highly trained law enforcement professional, I'll thank you to keep your gun in your home or in your car.

I do not want YOU armed at work, because I think YOU are 1) likely to use it in a fit of anger and 2) likely to shoot me by accident if there's an incident.

Now, there is a sort of specious logic to the idea that a shooter is less likely to come into a workplace where he knows that everyone is armed.

However, when a coworker comes to an office to shoot somebody, he's probably planning on being carried out feet first. So the fact that there are armed coworkers isn't likely to dissuade him all that much.

And then there's the possibility of an arms race. If I were a nutcase who wanted to do damage someplace where everyone is armed, I would probably figure out a way to blow the place up.

And in that case all those sidearms aren't going to be much use.

So, overall, I think the idea of having regular coworkers and customers carry guns is not just ill-advised but, frankly, kinda crazy.

UPDATE 1/18:
By the way, I don't buy the story that Laughner was a random nutcase and therefore the violent political rhetoric of the far right is purely coincidental.

While Loughner wasn't a specifically right-wing political nut, the questions remain: Why Giffords? Why a congresswoman at all? Why a congresswoman who'd been targeted by right wing violence in the past?

Why not shoot up the school that threw him out? Or the employers who fired him? Or some random celebrity? Or just people at the local mall?

Who put the idea in his head that shooting a Democratic congresswoman (of all people!) was the best way to express anger?

And who put the idea in his head that it was OK to carry guns to a political meeting?

(Just because you have a right to do something doesn't make it right, and anybody who remembers the assassinations of the 60s knows that it's not appropriate and it's both threatening and small-minded.)

There is ABSOLUTELY NO QUESTION IN MY MIND WHATSOEVER that Loughner was influenced -- in his choice of victim -- by both the rhetoric and the past actions of the far right in terms of targeting Giffords.

Laughner may not have been political, but politics pointed him in a certain direction.

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