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What To Consider When Approaching The Question: To Arm Or Not To Arm?

Aug 14, 2014 2:00:00 PM

This post summarizes Matthew Moore and Thomas O’Neill’s presentation titled “To Arm or Not to Arm” from the August 6, 2014 Securing & Surviving The Active Shooter Epidemic Seminar. It is meant to convey his ideas and opinions without endorsement or criticism. Therefore, the ideas and opinions in this post are not necessarily those of Gibson.

To_Arm_Or_Not_To_ArmAs active shooter events become more prevalent—not just in schools but in workplaces too—we need to do something to make where we work safer. One idea schools and businesses are considering is arming their employees. It’s an option that elicits strong and passionate arguments both pro and con. But those arguments often fail to consider the risks associated with arming (or not arming) employees or the controls necessary to undertake arming employees properly.

Ultimately, there is no “right” answer; there is no “easy” answer. It’s a decision each organization must make on its own. But when an organization weighs the option to arm its employees, it must consider all the risks and controls to make sure arming is the right decision for its workplace.

If our organization is considering arming employees, the following questions are among those you should consider:


  • What types of guns will you allow?
  • Who would own the gun – the organization or the individual?
  • Will they carry the gun on them or will they store it?
  • If they store it, where and how would they store it?
  • Would they take the gun home with them after work or would they leave it at the office?
  • Who else would have access to the weapon?

The People

  • Who is responsible for deciding which employers to arm? What qualifications must the decision maker have?
  • How will the decision be made?
  • What qualifications must the employee being armed have?
  • Are there any circumstances that would disqualify an employee from consideration?
  • What training would you require of the employee? Would you pay for it? How often must the employee complete continuing training?
  • How many employees will you arm?

Policies And Procedures

  • Who will know who is armed?
  • How can concerns of other employees be addressed?
  • What circumstances justify the weapon being used? What about if the attacker’s weapon is not a gun, but a knife or baseball bat, can the employee use the gun?
  • What are your deadly force guidelines? Would they be in line with law enforcement? Would there be any differences based on the perpetrator? Is the action different if it is a child versus an adult?
  • In schools, should an armed teacher stay with his or her class or should the teacher go to the incident? Is this a business decision or a personal decision?
  • What happens if a gun is lost or stolen, how do you handle it?

Workplace Culture

  • Consider your stakeholders, whether they are students, teachers, parents, workers, customers, guests, patients, or investors. How do they feel about guns in the workplace?
  • How do they feel about the employees selected to carry a gun? Do they trust those individuals? Or are they fearful that they will have a gun?
  • Is there a forum for them to address their concerns?


This list is in no way inclusive. There are numerous other considerations to be made when thinking about whether to arm or not to arm individuals at your workplace. The most important thing is to be sure to weigh all the ramifications of your decision to properly protect your students, your teachers, your workforce, and your organization.


To download the handouts from this presentation, as well as the other materials from the Securing & Surviving The Active Shooter Epidemic Seminar, please click here.


Written by Gibson

Gibson is a team of risk management and employee benefits professionals with a passion for helping leaders look beyond what others see and get to the proactive side of insurance. As an employee-owned company, Gibson is driven by close relationships with their clients, employees, and the communities they serve. The first Gibson office opened in 1933 in Northern Indiana, and as the company’s reach grew, so did their team. Today, Gibson serves clients across the country from offices in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Utah.