Edward Zabinski, area senior
vice president, Gallagher
SHOULD WE ARM MANAGERS? BY AUTUMN HEISLER
Having an armed manager adds on-the-spot protection, but guns in the workplace could
open companies to a series of liability risks.
The u.s. saw 54 mass hooting incidents in the first three months of 2018. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that collects
and maps gun-related violence in the
U.S., reported 3,619 deaths and 6,315
injuries in that same timeframe.
“Workplace violence incidences
are on the rise in the United States,”
said Emily Loupee, Los Angeles-area
vice president, management liability
practice group, Gallagher.
“According to OSHA, two million
workers in America are victims
of workplace violence each year.
A November 2017 CNN analysis
reported that despite having only 5
percent of the world’s population, the
U.S. accounted for 31 percent of the
public mass shootings between 1966
“It’s the number one killer of
women in the workplace and third
overall,” said Mark A. Lies, labor
attorney, Seyfarth Shaw LLP.
From movie theatres to churches,
elementary schools to the workplace,
gun violence knows no bounds. Many
have spoken out about gun regulation
and reform, mental health screenings,
raising the legal gun-purchasing age,
arming teachers and so on.
The hard truth, however, is that
change takes time. While the country
waits for political action, violent
incidents can still occur. Companies
willing to take matters into their own
hands are looking for ways to prevent,
prepare for and mitigate the risk of an
FIREARMS IN THE WORKPLACE
One solution: arming managers.
“This is a newer consideration for
companies that is arising from the
large number of incidents occurring
both in the public domain and in the
workplace,” said Kim Auchstetter,
the Chicago-area executive VP of
retail property/casualty brokerage
And while the idea itself comes with
controversy, it isn’t without its merits.
A Gallagher-published article, entitled
“Arming Managers With Guns?” and
written by Lies, considers advantages
and disadvantages of the proposal.
The biggest argument for
companies allowing managers to carry
a gun is that, in the event of an active
shooter, the manager would have a
firearm available to protect themselves
and the workers.
“You have someone on the spot.
Sometimes it can take the police time
to get to a place. That’s critical time,”
said Lies. “Somebody who is trained
Lies, however, called this a “limited
advantage,” because any armed
manager needs proper permits to
own a gun. And a firearm owner
identification card and a concealed
carry permit do not grant managers
the authority to bring firearms into the
workplace; the employer would need to
set up the proper channels for a gun to
be present at work.
First step, Lies said, is to review
federal and state law. Lies also
suggested that if an employer chooses
to allow firearms at work, they should
consider requiring that copies of their
managers’ permits are on file.
However, having proper
documentation and the law on the
employers’ side isn’t always enough.
“The manager is not a sworn
law enforcement officer, so the legal
immunities that such officers have
for liability to themselves and the
employer will not attach,” Lies wrote
in the article.
If a manager were to use a firearm
on the workplace premises to stop
a threat, they would be relying
primarily on their inherent right to
self-defense. Additionally, the manager
could be seen as acting as an agent
of the employer, which opens the
company to potential agency liability
claims if an incident occurred.
“From an insurance and risk
management perspective, one of the
biggest issues with arming [managers]
is the increased potential liability
you can face as an organization,” said
Auchstetter. “This exposure can also
limit — or potentially completely
eliminate — the number of admitted
insurance carriers that will agree to
underwrite a company if they begin
“If I were an insurer, I would want
to know about the manager [before
agreeing to insure the company],” said
Lies. He suggested employers should
ask managers interested in carrying a
gun to take a psych evaluation.
“In my experience,” he said, “many
employers aren’t involved in that yet.”
It’s difficult to assess how an
individual might react in a high-stress
moment like facing an active shooter.
A psych evaluation can give just a hint
of what a manager is capable of doing.
The permits show “they can handle
a weapon,” Lies said, “but when it
comes down to a stressful situation,
are they psychologically ready? Will
they make the right decision? Are they
trained in reading another person’s
behavior? Will they tell the shooter to
surrender and wait or will they shoot?”
“It will be interesting to see how
the standard markets react to guns in
the workplace. Some may decline to
provide a quotation and others may
seek reinsurance to mitigate their
risk, which could increase the cost of
insurance for businesses,” Auchstetter
Active shooter/malicious acts,
workplace violence and terrorism
coverages are just some of the products
geared toward helping insureds in the
event of a workplace shooting.
“Many insurers offer endorsements
for assault or workplace violence
on kidnap and ransom insurance
policies for 15 to 40 percent additional
premium,” said Loupee. “The policies
cover fees such as lost business income,
security, rest and rehabilitation, public
relations, crisis response, lost wages,
counseling and death benefits.”
Edward Zabinski, Chicago-area
senior VP-loss control and safety
services, Gallagher, said companies
can start the conversation by creating
policies preventing workplace
violence and harassment, establishing
a zero-tolerance code of conduct,
addressing conflicts quickly to prevent
escalation, conducting workplace
violence and harassment prevention
training, and creating safe channels
of communication so that unwanted
behavior can be addressed promptly. &