A recent sports story has sparked a national debate about guns in the workplace. As reported by the Washington Post the incident began after an argument over a card game:
The two players had been arguing during a card game on the Wizards’ flight back from Phoenix Dec. 19, and the dispute spilled into the team locker room at Verizon Center before practice two days later. Arenas has acknowledged bringing his handguns to the arena and displaying them in the locker room that morning in what he maintained was a playful gesture aimed at his teammate.
According to two first-hand accounts of the confrontation, Crittenton responded to Arenas’s action — which included laying the four unloaded weapons in Crittenton’s cubicle with a note that read, "Pick One" — by brandishing his own firearm, loading a clip of ammunition into the gun and cocking the weapon.
The Huffington Post has posted a statement from NBA Commissioner David Stern:
The possession of firearms by an NBA player in an NBA arena is a matter of the utmost concern to us. I initially thought it prudent to refrain from taking immediate action because of the pendency of a criminal investigation involving the office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department, and the consideration of this matter by a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia. For the same reason, I directed the Wizards to refrain from taking any action.
Wizards personnel continue to be interviewed by law enforcement authorities, some are scheduled for appearance before the grand jury and the investigation is proceeding with the intensity that one would expect for such a serious incident.
Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game. Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA.
What is interesting about this story is the outrage that is being exhibited about bringing guns to the workplace. But I suspect that most employers don’t have a policy on guns in the workplace. Guns are dangerous. Many people believe strongly in their Second Amendment right to bear arms, and that is, of course, part of what makes this country great. But there is no reason for an employer to allow employees to bring firearms into the workplace. They are an accident waiting to happen.
For the safety of co-workers and our families, you should encourage your employer to draft a policy prohibiting guns in the workplace. The Gilbert Arenas story will turn out tragic only for my Washington Wizards as Mr. Arenas will likely be suspended for a period of time. But if matters had escalated, could we be talking about the death of one or more young men in their athletic prime? (Like the late Sean Taylor, a player for the Washington Redskins who died of a gunshot wound during a burglary of his home.) Or perhaps an innocent Wizards staff member who was happening by the locker room.
The point is that as an employee you have a right to a safe workplace. You shouldn’t have to fear firearms at work. Ask your boss to pass an anti-firearms policy today.
Both an Emory School of Law graduate and MBA graduate of Goizueta Business School at Emory, Chris Nace focuses his practice on areas of medical malpractice, drug and product liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination and other negligence and personal injury matters.