In the latter part of 2016, Missouri gun laws were often in the news as the legislature passed bills designed to liberalize the carrying of firearms. Changing laws and a spotlight on gun rights often raise questions from employers regarding what type of policies they are allowed to implement regarding guns in the workplace. First, it is worth mentioning that the recent changes to Missouri law have not impacted the express statutory rights of Missouri employers in this regard. In essence, as a result of the changes, effective January 1, 2017, most adults may carry a concealed firearm in Missouri without a state-issued permit and the training previously required in order to obtain a permit. The legislature passed the bill containing this and other changes to Missouris gun laws last September, only to be vetoed by former Governor Nixon. The Missouri legislature then overrode his veto to put the new laws into effect. Prior to the passage of this law, carrying a concealed handgun required a concealed carry permit; now, a permit no longer is required.
Missouri law expressly provides that individuals may carry concealed firearms in the state of Missouri, but that right comes subject to numerous exceptions. These exceptions include schools, sports arenas, police stations, hospitals, childcare facilities, bars, and more. For employers, the key provision of the statute is a section providing that an employer may prohibit employees from bringing a firearm onto its premises. The legal right of an employer to limit carrying of firearms by employees in the workplace varies considerably by state. Despite loosening most controls regarding the carrying of firearms, Missouri continues to allow employers to set their own policy about guns in the workplace. Additionally, an employer may prohibit an employee from carrying a firearm in a company-owned vehicle. Note that if the workplace is open to the public, and if carrying a concealed firearm is to be prohibited, the employer should post one or more signs stating as much. There are statutory specifications for the notice signs as well.
Since employers still have the right to restrict guns in the workplace, one might wonder whether the changes to Missouri gun law have any bearing in the workplace. For employers who prohibit entirely the carrying of weapons in the workplace the answer should be no. For employers who do not have a policy for guns in the workplace, however, the changes would mean that employees or customers, if applicable would be legally allowed to carry concealed firearms into the employer’s place of business without a permit. It is quite possible that this represents a relatively small change in the overall amount of individuals who might bring a firearm into the workplace. It also means, however, that an individual who has not had the firearms training previously required of concealed carry permit holders now would be able to legally carry a firearm into the workplace.
We recommend all employers develop and implement a policy concerning individuals’ rights to bring firearms into the workplace. In addition, employers should make sure such policies are publicized to employees either through inclusion in an employee handbook or posting on the appropriate bulletin board.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters, including statutory compliance and employment policies, for almost sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.