Can I Bring My Gun to Work?

August 29, 2016

In Georgia, where the right to bear arms is historic, many people are adamant that they ought to be able to take their guns where they please. Some people carry their arms at work and they don’t expect any problems. Unfortunately for them, however, this expectation may not always be a reality.

The recent lawsuit concerning the right to openly carry guns at the Atlanta Botanical Garden has highlighted the issue of whether people should be able to openly carry firearms onto private property. Georgia law does enable businesses to bar firearms from their property. However, guns can be carried in public and on publicly owned property. This overarching right to bear arms in public has drawn great criticism from organizations such as the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus. This organization is strongly opposed to the presence of loaded, concealed guns on campus and has called Georgia’s gun laws “absurd.”

Where Exactly are Guns Allowed?

Georgia law allows arms to be carried in public spaces (aside from specific exemptions such as government buildings, courts, and jails, where law enforcement officers provide security and guard entrances). The Georgia Constitution itself guarantees citizens the right to keep and bear arms. It is also a “shall issue” state, meaning a license is required to carry a handgun and a license will be granted if the legal criteria are met.

When is a Permit Not Needed?

A permit to carry gun is not needed under a range of circumstances—including carrying inside a person’s in a home, place of business, vehicle, or carrying a long gun in a fully open and exposed manner. In 2014, Governor Nathan Deal signed in the Safe Protection Act. The Act governs where Georgians may carry a firearm. Government buildings without security allow firearms but churches are able to disallow them. Georgia is also a “Stand Your Ground” state, so people under threat are not obliged to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.

What About the Workplace?

The workplace is a different matter altogether. An employer is not liable for any criminal or civil action for damages arising from an occurrence involving a firearm— unless the actual employer commits a criminal act or knew in advance that the person using the firearm would commit the criminal act on the employer’s premises. The law also provides employers with the freedom to advise their workers that they are prohibited from bringing arms into the workplace. They may, however, leave their guns in their cars. An employer can search the vehicle only under very specific exceptions.

In Georgia, citizens most definitely have a right to carry a gun. However, the ambiguity of the law and employer concern about the consequences of a potential incident on their premises means that they may choose to prohibit guns at the workplace. It would be wise of employers to notify all employees and potential employees of their policy regarding guns at work. Employers should place notices on the premises. As the law in this area is constantly evolving, employers should review their policies to ensure that they are up to date.

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