Wisconsin county gives approval for employees to carry on the job

(AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim)

And it wasn’t a close call on the part of county commissioners either. In fact, it was a unanimous 7-0 vote by Kenosha County’s Finance and Administration Committee last night. As a result, any county employee who possesses a valid concealed carry license will soon be able to lawfully carry on the clock; at least if they don’t work in one of the buildings designated by the country as “gun-free zones”, like the county courthouse and jail facility.

While the new rules won’t take effect immediately it’s still a big step forward for the county, though there were some potential hangups that thankfully were addressed before the issue was put to a vote.

During deliberations, some supervisors objected to restrictions that applied to employees using their own vehicles and having weapons.

The committee reviewed and later removed the restriction that pertained to employees with permitted concealed carry weapons and who transport non-employees in the employees’ personal vehicles. That provision had also required trigger locking, barrel locking or keeping the weapon in a case and from plain view.

Supervisor Brian Bashaw said the employees’ vehicle is their personal space.

“They own that. And, to be restricted from carrying within their own vehicle is tantamount to saying we are completely restricting carry,” he said. “You no longer have the ability to carry even in your own vehicle … because you may have an employee or other person with you.”

He called the restrictions “overly encumbering” and the intended to prevent concealed carry.

I don’t know if that was the intended effect, but it certainly would have been one of the consequences had that proposal been adopted. It’s kind of an odd rule to begin with, but apparently it was meant to cover certain county employees like social workers who might transport “clients” in their own private vehicles.

“I would anticipate that in an enclosed space like a vehicle where they’re transporting a client, it’s a different environment than if you’re sitting at a desk out in the work place with people around,” [Kenosha County Human Resources Director Clara] Tappa said. “So, it’s a safety measure.”

She said the policy is modeled after a Wisconsin Department of Justice policy for its workers. Social workers may be transporting clients, including juveniles to an institution, a home or an appointment.

“They can have those clients in their vehicle, which could be an emotional situation,” she said.

While that may be the case, I’d argue it’s far better for county employees who are concealed carry holders to be able to keep their gun on their person instead of having to take it out of its holster and lock it up. If the goal is to keep the gun out of “plain view,” it seems to me the best way to do that would be to simply keep it concealed in the first place.

The committee voted to scrap that particular proposal, but they are apparently working on “revisions” that could ultimately still require employees with concealed carry permits to keep their guns locked and stored away while they’re transporting non-employees. If the goal is to ensure that county employees can protect themselves on the job, it seems foolish to prevent them from doing so when they have potentially dangerous individuals riding in their car with them.

Overall, however, this is a huge step in the right direction and one that more governmental bodies (and private companies, frankly) should adopt. It might be comforting to think that a “no-guns allowed” sign will keep bad guys at bay, but it’s also complete nonsense. As we saw in the 2019 shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center in which 12 people were murdered by an employee who violated the building’s weapons policy, these laws only stop good people from protecting themselves.

Kate Nixon had considered taking a gun to work on May 31, the day a co-worker killed her and 11 others in the country’s deadliest mass shooting this year, a family attorney said on a radio show Monday.

The public utilities engineer was concerned about DeWayne Craddock “as well as one other person,” said Kevin Martingayle, an attorney working with Nixon’s family. So on the night of May 30, Nixon had discussed with her husband, Jason, “whether or not she should take a pistol and hide it in her handbag,” Martingayle said. She decided against it because of a city policy that prevents employees from bringing weapons to work.

The next day, Craddock, who had worked as a city public utilities engineer for nine years, used a .45-caliber handgun with a legally purchased silencer to fire at colleagues in Building 2 of the city’s Municipal Center in Princess Anne.

Gun-free zones protect cold-blooded killers, not their intended victims. Kenosha County is doing the right thing with its new policy allowing employees to defend themselves while on the clock if necessary, and here’s hoping we see many more stories like this in the future.