Personal weapons while at county job discussed
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Feb 11, 2014 | 776 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
What started as just an item on a list in Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis’ report at Monday’s Bradley County Commission meeting turned into a debate over whether or not telling employees they cannot carry personal concealed weapons while on the job would be in violation of their rights.

Davis mentioned a few items he would like to see added to the agenda for the body’s next voting session. He explained the county’s insurance company was asking for a policy on employees using personal firearms.

County Attorney Crystal Freiberg said the issue also is being faced by other counties in the state. Insurance companies do not want the liability of a county employee who does not use a firearm as part of their job carrying weapons with them while on the job — county-owned or not.

Also at issue was employees carrying personal weapons while driving county-owned vehicles and the level of training to handle and maintain a gun safely.

Commissioner Terry Caywood expressed concern about what that might mean for individuals carrying personally licensed guns for their own protection.

He said he knew of at least one female employee who worked in a county-owned building alone at night, and carried a gun with her as a self-defense measure.

Commissioner Adam Lowe was concerned about the “political process” of making rules regarding carrying guns.

He wondered if putting restrictions on where and how employees could carry guns for which they have legal permits was “infringing on their rights.” 

Freiberg said the county had insurance with the company in question until at least July 1.

While the debate paused in light of needing to discuss things like accepting county roads, it came up again during the time for communication from the audience.

Local resident John Stanbery said he didn’t like the insurance company “discriminating against” people who are exercising their rights to own guns.

He added employees “shouldn’t lose that right simply because they work for the county.” 

Lowe said it does “irk” him that permitted gun owners seem to be considered “a safety risk” by the county’s insurance company.

Commissioner Jeff Yarber said he didn’t think what the county allows its government employees to do should be dictated by a private company.

“They work for us,” Yarber said. “We don’t work for them.” 

Resident Dan Rawls said he felt it was a “ridiculous policy” and those who take on the responsibility of being gun owners should be held liable if the weapons are used — not the county.

The issue of county employees being able to carry personal firearms while on the job is set to be placed on the agenda for the Commission’s next voting session.