Guns at Work: What Employers Need to Know

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In July, N.J. Spotlight News reported that gun owners in New Jersey are packing classes focused on applications for new carry permits — and lining up for instruction at shooting ranges so they can learn how to draw and fire a weapon safely. People want to enroll in open-carry classes since a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for owners to apply for carry permits without having to first prove “justifiable need.”

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the Court overruled a strict New York gun licensing law.  The decision has already or will also likely affect similarly restrictive laws in a handful of other states, including California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

“The decision may not mention the workplace, but because it will almost certainly lead to the presence of more guns in public, some employers are already on alert,” says John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey.

According to Manolis Boulukos, an Indiana-based partner at Ice Miller LLP, cited in Law360, the ruling will probably be misinterpreted.

"I think there's a reasonable likelihood that both employees and members of the public are going to misunderstand this decision, and they are going to conclude, or get that information from the internet, that this decision somehow allows them to carry a gun wherever they want to," he said.

Workplace weapons bans are still lawful under the Court’s ruling and nothing restricts an employer’s right to prohibit employees from bringing firearms onto your premises, including company-owed vehicles, says Sarno

Some experts have also pointed to the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to provide a safe workplace.

Shortly after the Court decision, New Jersey further tightened the state’s already strict gun control laws with seven bills, from requiring additional training and registration to limiting ammunition and prohibiting .50-caliber rifles.