Jan 262003
 
Authors: Patrick Crossland

Two incidents that raised safety concerns for county employees have led Larimer County to look into altering concealed weapons policies.

After one county employee brandished a handgun in a break room and another dropped one in the stairwell, new regulations could require county employees to notify their employers before carrying a concealed weapon with a permit. The county commissioners are also looking into punishing those who abuse their concealed weapons privileges, which could result in loss of weapon privileges in addition to legal action.

“The present policy allows any employee to carry a weapon with a permit,” said Commissioner Tom Bender. “It’s a weapons issue, not just handguns, though the focus has been on firearms.”

Asked why people, mainly employees, feel the need to carry a weapon at work, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said people feel responsible for their own safety.

“Generally people want the ability to be responsible for their own personal safety,” he said.

Bender said the new policy would create a standard of expectation when bringing a concealed weapon to work.

“It would let employees know that if they bring one in, they have to meet the standards, right now there are no standards,” Bender said. “I think it’s time we have some rules.”

The director from Larimer county Department for Human Services, Ginny Riley, said if a policy were to be established, she would likely handle situations on a case-to-case basis.

A number of employees have stated it’s unlikely that they would bring a firearm to work regardless of a new policy, according to Riley.

“It’s hard to know, a number of employees have said if they had a permit they wouldn’t necessarily bring (a weapon) to work.”

Riley said she would support the commissioners’ decision either way, and that it’s really up to them to decide on the issue.

“What employees think is important, but it’s the commissioners who decide on this issue,” said Riley.

An original draft of the policy banned all employees from carrying concealed weapons at work.

“I voiced opposition against a no gun policy, you have to make an exception for those who have a valid concealed weapons permit,” Alderden said.

Alderden also said banning employees from carrying a concealed weapon with a permit while legal citizens remain armed, makes a second-class citizen of County employees.

He said people feel committed to this issue because it is an issue surrounding personal rights.

“Many permit holders don’t hold fire arms,” said Alderden. “It became an issue when their rights were threatened.”

Even if a policy was implemented, Alderden predicts no drastic changes in gun toting practices.

“I think it is unlikely that many people will exercise this option,” said Alderden. “Most are not going to feel threatened or need to arm themselves.”

The proposed policy has some County workers and community members stepping back from the idea.

“We have community members who feel it’s inappropriate; we also have had citizens say commissioners are doing the right thing,” said County Manager Frank Lancaster. “Most citizens and employees have leaned toward thinking guns should not be in the work place.”

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