Friday’s shooting at the school that snuffed out innocent lives has reopened a Pandora box about how to go about weapons control, but it seems that even with such a hard knock, commercial interests continue to rule over moral values.
Should workers be allowed to carry weapons to their places of work? Employers across the board are vehemently against it, whereas firearm groups are fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent any new laws, constraining a highly profitable industry. Employers are again voicing their concern and upped the ante in opposing bills supported by the National Rifle Association that would further strengthen laws that allow workers to carry guns to work.
Outrageously, gun laws are getting more lenient and not more severe as would seem the more logical thing to do. In seventeen states across the country, employers cannot stop their workers from bringing their guns to the workplace, but they have to keep them locked in their cars, even if the vehicles are parked on the owner’s campus.
Ridiculously, North Dakota and Indiana have forbidden employers from asking their employees why they need to carry guns and what useful work does it serve. North Dakota employers cannot even ask their workers if they have weapons in their cars. Employers in Georgia are not allowed to make, not carrying weapons to work, a prerequisite to hiring.
State legislatures in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Pennsylvania are, seeking to join 17 other US States that have given the green signal to workers to carry guns, whilst travelling to and from work. Albeit they would not be allowed to carry them on their persons whilst at work, but keep them in their cars, even if the vehicles are parked on space belonging to the employer.
Alabama State Senator Roger Bedford said that many employees commute from distant places and are vulnerable to attacks and this will provide them with protection during their long drives. He said that workplace should not be allowed to ignore the Second Amendment that gives them the right to bear arms. Moreover, he said, the guns would be given to only those employees who legally merited them and they would have to keep them sheltered and hidden.
However, many employers have decried this argument, among them FedEx and Volkswagen who say that the employer’s desire that his workplace should be safe and secure and that his workers are well-protected should take precedence over an individual’s right to hold a weapon on someone else’s private property.
Employers have a strong case. According to government statistics 20 percent of deaths at the workplace are owing to violence between workers and 80 percent involved robberies. Around 500 workplace killings and murders occur each year, according to the US Justice Department.
The Republicans who are the majority in these four states are caught in the horns of a dilemma that could alienate their traditional business constituency if they voted in favor of the gun-rights supporters. Robert Spitzer, chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York said that the guns rights movement was now on a collision course with conventional business interests. It is a battle between social value issues and a commercial one and the Republican Party stands to lose, whichever way it chooses to go.
Past Education Secretary Bill Bennett said that he felt that school employees should possibly be allowed to carry weapons. He said that it is a quite serious possibility that the heroism and courage of the principal and the teachers would not have been in vain, if they had been armed. He, however, clarified that the employee carrying the weapons should be adept at handling it and should be specifically trained for such incidents.
However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that additional weapons weren’t the answer, echoing similar feelings as Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, who refuted Bennett’s suggestion, saying that schools have be safe sanctuaries and did not feel that more guns, irrespective of in whose hands they are, will make them any safer.
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