Firearms in the Workplace

In concealed-carry states like Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, can an employer choose whether it allows or prohibits employees from carrying firearms in the workplace?

In Colorado, an employer can determine who (if anyone) among its employees may carry a firearm in the workplace. Colorado Revised Statute § 18-12-214 restricts where a person holding a concealed carry permit may take her gun. The statute reserves the right of a private property owner, private tenant, private employer, or private business entity to exclude weapons from their premises. This law includes the right to prohibit the possession of a firearm in a locked vehicle in the company’s parking lot.

In Utah, an individual who has a permit to carry a concealed firearm may carry a gun in “a business under the person’s control.” Utah Code Ann, § 76-10-504. A licensed person who does not have the business under his control (in other words, an employee), may carry a concealed gun in his own residence; on his own property; in his own vehicle; or, with permission, in another individual’s vehicle, but not at work. However, his employer cannot prohibit him from storing a firearm in his own vehicle in the company’s parking lot provided that: “(i) the individual is legally permitted to transport, possess, purchase, receive, transfer, or store the firearm; (ii) the firearm is locked securely in the motor vehicle or in a locked container attached to the motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is not occupied; and (iii) the firearm is not in plain view from the outside of the motor vehicle. Utah Code Ann, § 34-45-103(1).

In Arizona, an employer may prohibit weapons from entering the company’s building after giving reasonable notice forbidding the carrying of deadly weapons or firearms. ARS 13-502. An employer may not prohibit an employee from transporting or storing a firearm that is in the employee’s privately owned, locked motor vehicle or in a locked compartment on the employee’s privately owned motorcycle, provided the firearm is not visible from the outside of the motor vehicle or motorcycle. See ARS § 12-781(a) (1)-(2). The law does provide exceptions, such as when federal or state law prohibit firearms on the employer’s property, that will allow an employer to prohibit any firearms on their property.

To enforce a weapons policy, an employer must give proper notice to employees that weapons are not allowed inside the work premises, or in Colorado, on company property. In addition, if the possession of a weapon is forbidden at work, the employer should give notice to its employees that lockers, desks, and personal items brought onto the business premises are subject to search at any time. Finally, the employer should establish the consequences for bringing a banned weapon into the workplace, whether that is written discipline, unpaid leave of absence, or termination.