Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Can a Business Prohibit Guns?

Despite the Second Amendment right to bear arms, businesses across the country are free to adopt their own policies regulating and even prohibiting guns. Businesses are free to ban guns from their property. However, in some states, there may be some hurdles to jump (or signs to post) before doing so.

For the most part, guns are regulated by state laws. Many states already have laws about when, how, and where guns may be carried, such as prohibiting guns from being carried into establishments that serve alcohol. However, some states like Texas and Georgia require businesses to post conspicuous signage explaining when guns are not permitted on the premises.

Customers With Guns

Since gun ownership is a highly divisive issue, many business owners prefer to stay out of the debate. As mentioned above, some states require businesses to post specific signage at the entrance if they want to ban guns from their premises. And while in some states it may be illegal to carry a gun in some businesses, there may be serious problems with enforcement.

One significant issue with prohibiting guns in businesses is the actual enforcement of the policy. Since frequently gun owners are carrying concealed weapons, employees may not be able to enforce the policy if they cannot see the weapon. Additionally, some employees may be intimidated by customers that have guns, and may be afraid to ask a customer to leave the premises and return without their firearm.

Employees With Guns

Generally, an employer may not be able to prevent an employee from purchasing or owning a firearm. However, an employer may prohibit an employee from bringing that firearm into the office. Typically, an employer is free to adopt their own workplace policies, and a policy prohibiting employees from bringing firearms to work would seem to be a reasonable policy to protect against workplace violence.

Recently, a DA's office in New York was the center of controversy after a new policy went into effect that prohibited employees from owning handguns. The short-lived policy (it only lasted about a week) illustrates that while an employer is free to create policies, going too far can be bad for business and create unintended controversy.

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