Penalties ranging from a written warning to suspension to termination in connection with carrying a concealed weapon were recommended tonight in the Unified Government Administration and Human Services Committee meeting.
The UG Commission has already passed a concealed carry policy, based on changes in the state law, and this would be an amendment to the policy.
UG staff members including human resources staff and UG attorneys were requested by commissioners to make policy changes outlining clear consequences to policy violations.
Guns and any type of weapons are not allowed in UG buildings and the UG workplaces, under the UG’s policy. The policy does not apply to police officers and sheriff’s deputies who carry guns as a normal part of their duties.
These clear consequences, according to the UG staff, would include:
• For possession of a weapon in a UG building, the staff recommended a penalty to be determined by the circumstance.
• For failing to keep a handgun carried by an employee concealed or in one’s possession at all times, the staff recommended a written warning for the first offense, followed by suspension and termination.
• For any physical or verbal reference that an employee is in possession of a weapon or any display of a weapon, the staff recommended a suspension the first time and termination the second time.
• For openly carrying a firearm while conducting UG business, the staff recommended a suspension for the first offense and termination for the second offense.
• For the unlawful discharge of a handgun, the staff recommended termination.
• For possession of a weapon that the employee is not legally qualified to carry, the staff recommended termination.
• For failing to notify a supervisor of another employee’s violation of the Violence Free Workplace policy, the staff recommended a penalty to be determined by the circumstance.
Commissioner Harold Johnson questioned the penalty for bringing a firearm into a UG building. According to UG legal staff, this penalty gave the administration leeway to consider the circumstances. Perhaps someone might forget there is a gun in a purse, according to one commissioner.
Commissioner Angela Markley said she understood that someone may forget that they brought a gun into the building, but for her, that violation is no less severe because it was an accident. “The bottom line is they brought a gun into the building, and the responsibility of the gun owner still rests with the gun owner,” she said.
“My concern all along is the others in our building still feel safe,” Commissioner Markley said. “I’m less concerned with the rights of the gun owner, who is the one who violated the law, than I am with the rights of the people in our building to feel safe.”
The penalty should be clearer, such as a written warning, termination and suspension for possession of a weapon in a UG building, according to Markley. The UG legal staff said a penalty determined by the circumstance could be stricter, and could be suspension or termination for knowingly violating the rule.
Those who make the decision on the penalty in specific instances will not be the supervisor, but will be human resources staff, reviewed by the legal department, then to the county administrator for the final decision, according to the legal department.
The amendment with the penalties received unanimous approval at the standing committee and will go to the full commission for approval.
The human resources policy was amended in June to allow concealed carry in certain circumstances after the state Legislature passed a bill saying government employees must be allowed to carry concealed weapons when they are not in government buildings. The UG’s policy has many rules about concealed carry, including one that stated guns cannot be left unattended in UG-owned vehicles. However, employees may leave guns in their own vehicles, out of sight, according to the policy.
Employees also will not be allowed to carry concealed handguns in a way that others can notice an outline of them, and they will not be allowed to tell anyone that they have a concealed handgun, according to UG policy. In addition, they may not bring a concealed handgun onto any private property that does not allow them. If there is a sign on private property, such as a business, that says no guns are allowed, the UG employee will not be allowed to bring a gun onto the property, according to the policy.