Everyone today knows the meaning of “going postal”. Unfortunately, this occurs in workplaces of all types on a regular basis. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Our news day far too often includes a violent act occurring in a place of employment, public or private, school or factory, office or shopping center.
There is some belief in Washington DC and across the country that arming teachers and others in workplaces is one way to prevent violence. I have a difficult time believing that, unless these people are trained law enforcement personnel, and even then there is little assurance that they will respond with only necessary force when pressed into action. There are many examples in the news of law enforcement personnel going beyond the limits of reasonable or necessary force.
I also believe that weapons should be banned from the workplace, which includes the employee parking areas and the employee’s vehicle parked there. It is too easy for a disgruntled employee to go out to their car and reenter with a weapon to use against their supervisor or fellow employees. If they would have to go home first to get their weapon, that might defuse the situation.
There are ways to deal with this problem without reverting to a workplace that resembles life in the old west (e.g. Dodge City, the OK Corral), or encouraging vigilante behavior (think Death Wish). As an employer, it is essential that you encourage employees to come forward if they suspect the potential for violent behavior by a co-worker, while not fostering a paranoid workplace or ganging-up on an individual–sort of like a neighborhood block-watch program. Training your supervisors/managers in how to deal with and hopefully defuse potentially violent situations seems to me to be a better solution than having them patrol their department with a firearm.
Let’s approach workplace violence with measures that don’t involve violence as the solution.