Workplace gun prohibitions = promises not kept

By Chad D. Baus

When companies prohibit employees who have concealed handgun licenses from bringing their protection on company property, they explain by way of making a lot of promises.

They say without the prohibition, there is a risk of misuse, poor judgment or accident by license-holders.

They say the prohibition will make a safer work environment.

They say the prohibition makes the company "weapons-free".

The Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio was none of those things Wednesday night, January 26.

According to a news report from the Toledo Blade, a Jeep worker armed with a double-barreled 20-gauge shotgun shot two supervisors and a team leader at 8:45 p.m. last night in an office area at DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, fatally wounding one and injuring two others.

The gunman is identified by police as 54 year-old Toledoan Myles Meyers, who has an extensive criminal record dating back to the 70's. An employee at the plant, Meyers reportedly had met Tuesday with union and company officials to discuss a problem at work, but a company official said today he was not disciplined.

The paper states the attacker was pronounced dead in the office area of the body shop, having apparently shot himself in the head. One supervisor was taken to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where the paper reports he died at 9:20 p.m. The names of the two wounded men, also hospitalized at St. Vincent, were not released last night.

In statements given after the shooting, which have been updated today, Police Chief Mike Navarre said that interviews with witnesses indicate Meyers entered an office in the body shop on the west side of the plant, pointed the shotgun at the head of a female office worker and said he was there to shoot the supervisors and team leader. He then ordered her to contact the men. When two of Meyers' supervisors arrived on a golf cart, they entered the office and were shot by Meyers. The murderer remained in the office, walking past a long row of cubicles as he reloaded, then shot another person before turning the gun on himself. His body was later found in a cubicle.

Navarre stated wires spotted around Meyers' leg and the trunk of his body, originally viewed by police as a potential bomb, were fashioned into a sling used to (illegally) conceal the weapon to get in the plant. The chief said Meyers fired at least five shots, and that he was carrying additional ammunition.

Chief Navarre said about 15 police crews were at the plant "within a few minutes". Several hundred workers were in the plant at the time of the shootings, and when officers arrived, they found people running far from the plant, because when the need for self-protection presents itself, attackers don't wait for help to arrive.

As Navarre staged the press conference to offer details on this tragedy, I couldn't help but recall his opinions on self-defense:

  • In a June 2004 story about how carry-out owners are arming themselves after a year or more stretch of violent robberies in Toledo, "Navarre said he teaches small business owners not to have a gun." Navarre "wants owners to comply with criminals because anytime you have more guns in a tense situation, the better the chance of people getting shot and it's just not worth it."
  • At a town hall gathering for concerned store owners and citizens one year ago this month, Navarre was asked what they should do if bullets are flying. He said, "Take immediate cover - get away from the bullets," and added, "Pick up a baseball bat if that’s your only defense against bullets coming toward you." He said the best response to an armed robber is to comply fully and quickly, and to avoid making sudden movements.

    "Complying with criminals" didn't prevent the Jeep plant shootings, and apparently there weren't any baseball bats lying around.

    The City of Toledo has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the state. During the years leading up to legalization of OhioCCW, Mayor Jack Ford vigorously opposed concealed carry legislation. He presides over a city which bans the practice of open carry for self-defense, held up by five Supreme Court Justices as a "fundamental, individual right". And Ford cast the deciding vote for renewing a ban on inexpensive handguns, which discriminates against the less fortunate citizens of Toledo.

    Toledo gun control extremist Toby Hoover recently issued a statement praising workplace weapons prohibitions, fretting that "persons that carry guns make decisions that will affect any of us in their presence. Their judgment of when they will use a firearm puts us all at risk." Indeed, and the decision made by Mr. Meyers was made despite all the Federal gun control laws, state gun control laws, Toledo gun control laws, and employee manual gun control policies, because people who are determined to kill just don't care. This killer broke scores of firearms and criminal laws in committing this rampage, and he didn't need a license to do it. Of course, these same laws did nothing to protect the law-abiding citizens who work for Jeep.

    This incident reinforces the fact that disarmament zones only disarm honest, law-abiding citizens; not the criminals who prey upon them.

    When the Ohio House of Representatives passed Sub. House Bill 12 in 2003, a specific exemption prohibited companies from telling licensed customers and employees they could not store a firearm in their own automobile on the company parking lot. This provision was stripped from the final bill by the state Senate, rendering people defenseless (even on the drive to and from work), and making a repeat of the life-saving actions of Pearl High School Assistant Principal Joel Myrick at a Mississippi school shooting in 1997 much less likely here in Ohio.

    Even now, in Oklahoma, a group of corporations is fighting a newly-passed state law which would return the right of self-defense to customers and employees (at least in part) by exempting parking lots from places where businesses can ban firearms. How tragic.

    Banning the human right to self-defense for customers or employees has proven time and again to be a complete failure. It is time for this nation's businesses to recognize there is nothing to fear from law-abiding citizens who choose to defend themselves.

    Related Stories:
    Op-ed: The False Hope of Gun-Free Zones

    Disgruntled employee didn't need CHL to threaten former boss

    Why should employees be able to CCW? Question answered...tragically.

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