Local debate continues on concealed weapons

The place of firearms in the workplace is being debated anew in some quarters after last week's shooting in California.

While some conservatives contend that a wider ability to carry concealed weapons would deter would-be mass-shooters — or stop them altogether — some liberals are calling again for restrictions on gun sales and ownership of semiautomatic, high-capacity assault weapons.

Auto dealer services company Reynolds and Reynolds allows employees who are properly permitted to carry concealed weapons to have firearms on its Kettering campus, a company spokesman said Monday.

But that policy is not new and is in force as well in the company’s Houston properties, Reynolds spokesman Thomas Schwartz said.

Reynolds’ “fundamental, overarching policy” is not to allow weapons on its business campus, Schwartz said. But Reynolds does allow those who are legally licensed to carry a concealed weapon to do so on its County Line Road campus, he said. They are expected to obey all other relevant laws, too, he said.

The policy applies to anyone who is legally licensed to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio, including customers, he said.

The policy — which has been in place for at least five or six years — has never been a problem for the company and has never led to any incidents, Schwartz said.

“For people here, it’s just part of the fabric (of the company), and we just move on,” he said.

Reynolds is not rethinking the policy in light of recent “mass shootings,” he added, saying the company has no desire to get caught up in controversies of the moment.

Last week in San Bernardino, Calif., a husband and wife killed 14 people and injured 21. The shooting happened at a workplace, as a center for services to individuals with developmental disabilities. One of the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, was an environmental health specialist at the county health department. Authorities said Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, had been radicalized "for quite some time" and had taken target practice at area gun ranges, in one case within days.

“We don’t have much appetite for getting involved in those types of public debates,” Schwartz said. “It simply is no different than our health care policy or our fitness policy or any of those things. It’s just the way we run our business.”

He said Reynolds as a workplace may be outside the norm in that regard, but added: “Our folks don’t even give it a second thought, frankly.”

The Ohio Attorney General's office compiles statistics sent to it by county sheriff's offices, but attorney general spokeswoman Dan Tierney said his office does not track businesses that allow conceal carry permit holders to carry on site. Ohio law does not require such businesses to be registered, he said.

There is an Ohio registration requirement for individual concealed carry permit holders in their counties of residence, Tierney said.

Joe Eaton, a Southwestern Ohio-based spokesman for gun rights advocacy group Buckeye Firearms Association, said that under Ohio law, by default, no work place is off limits for concealed carrying of firearms.

"Each employer can decide on their own if they want to restrict CCW (concealed carry weapons) for the public (by posting signage in a conspicuous location) per Ohio revised code, or to restrict for employees only via internal employee rules," Eaton said in an email.

If a company restricts CCW as part of an employee agreement, that would not be a criminal matter, only an employment matter, he added.

“Anyone in the public could carry there without breaking any laws,” Eaton said. “However any employee carrying there could be facing some type of employment issue up to and including termination.”

Reynolds has more than 4,300 workers worldwide, including about 1,300 at its Kettering headquarters and 400 at its documents production division in Celina, Ohio.

Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly thinks the California shootings may inspire new conversations about concealed carry policies. He said he often asks himself where he personally should carry his own weapon — to restaurants or theaters, for example.

“If I were going to go to a movie theater myself, I would probably carry my gun,” Kelly said.

Dave Duebber, general manager of Dayton Mall, said mall policy does not allow anyone, including permitted CCW holders, to carry weapons on mall property.

That has long been the mall's stance, Duebber said. It continues to be the policy even after a December 2014 shooting in which a CCW permit holder shot and killed a 16-year-old who Miami Twp. police said was trying to rob the permit holder of his newly purchased athletic shoes.

“That’s corporate decision,” Duebber said. “It’s a liability decision.”

It's a nationwide policy for all W. P. Glimcher properties, he said. Glimcher owns the Dayton Mall and the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek.

Asked if the policy makes the mall safer, Duebber said, “That’s up to the individual to decide. But overall, the mall is very safe. We have no issues. We have a lot of police during the holidays, and we hire security.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from gun owners who sought a Second Amendment challenge to a Chicago suburb's ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Two conservative justices said they would have heard the case and struck down the ban. The Illinois State Rifle Association, one of the plaintiffs, indicated that it would continue to challenge local gun restrictions.

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