Gun Control: Is Brady For or Against Workplace Safety?

In Fall 2005, Brady Campaign published a report called Forced Entry: The National Rifle Association’s Campaign To Force Business To Accept Guns At Work. It includes the term “CCW” 17 times by the end of page 1 and contains an appendix entitled “CCW License Holders: “Law-Abiding Citizens?”1 This makes it reasonable to infer that this report is just as much an attempt to condemn right-to-carry as it is an argument against permitting qualified employees to bear arms to or at work.Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, Brady implies that workplace violence is at epidemic levels. It notes:

Moreover, the level of gun violence at work remains high. Almost 500 firearm homicides were committed in the workplace in 2003, with almost 90% of these occurring in the private sector. In addition, another three private sector employees are wounded each week by shootings at the workplace.2

Referring to the BLS, we see that there were 487 workplace homicides in 2003, with 433, or 89%, occurring in the private sector.3 Despite rounding errors which make their numbers more sinister, Brady seems to be on track, so we will use their data sources in this discussion.What Brady Doesn’t Say BLS data shows that the only category with a smaller number of non-fatal incidents is rape, and shootings make up 0.6% of all assaults and violent acts. People are four times more likely to get bitten at work than shot.4 Brady states:

Companies have an obligation in most cases to protect employees and customers from foreseeable acts of violence on company property.5

 Using this criteria, banning teeth would make the workplace four times safer than banning guns, and companies should “have an obligation” to do so. Brady continues with their anti-CCW message:

Given the uncertain character of and lack of training for CCW licensees, coupled with the pervasive problems of workplace violence, increasing the number of guns on company property increases the chances for gun violence.6

 From 1992 to 2005, the BLS notes that homicides in the workplace dropped from 1,044 to 564, a 46% decrease. In 1992, homicides were the second most common cause of workplace fatalities, trailing highway incidents by only 10%. By 2005, homicides dropped to the fourth most common cause, trailing highway incidents by over 60%. Most interesting is that the trend for the three other most frequent causes of workplace fatality increased since 1992, while homicide declined dramatically: highway incidents increased 23.3%, falls 27.8%, and “struck by object” increased 8.4%.7 It would seem reasonable that Brady should rename itself to the Campaign Against Falling if it were truly concerned over workplace safety.During this time frame, 21 states enacted shall-issue right-to-carry (RTC) laws, more than doubling the number of RTC states.8 Also during this time, the national violent crime rate dropped 38.1% and the murder rate decreased 39.6%.9 According to Brady logic, this should “prove” that RTC will reduce workplace homicides: guns in public increased while the chance for violence decreased, therefore “increasing the number of guns on company property” should decrease the chance of violence. John Lott reached the same conclusion when he collated mass murders and RTC.In his book The Bias Against Guns, Lott examined the relationship between gun availability and multiple murders, concluding:

If right-to-carry laws allow citizens to limit the amount of attacks that still take place, the number of persons harmed should fall relative to the number of shootings… And indeed, that is what we find. The average number of people dying or becoming injured per attack declines by around 50 percent.10 

 Lott also found that both the total number and rate of multiple murders in right-to-carry states are one-third that of restrictive states.11 In an email interview, he clarified by stating:

The simplest numbers showed a 67 percent drop in the number of attacks and about a 79 percent drop in the number of people killed or injured from such attacks. The number of people harmed fell by more than the number of attacks because some attacks that weren't deterred were stopped in progress by people with guns.

 Finally, none of the BLS data identifies whether an incident was part of intentional crime such as robbery, nor does it indicate whether the perpetrator was a RTC licensee, so there is no documented link between RTC and increased workplace violence.What is very interesting is that when divided by the total number of private and public employees, the workplace homicide rate in 2005 was 0.4 per 100,000 population,12 compared to the national homicide rate of 5.6 (14 times higher).13 This brings up an interesting question: If workers in honest industries have such a low murder rate, is the balance made up of workers in “dishonest” industries? Removing what might be considered “lamentable incidents” like romantic triangles, a child killed by their babysitter, and certain arguments which could be domestic violence, the estimated crime-related murder rate is 4.3. Dr. Martin L. Fackler, a leading firearms wound ballistics expert, would concur with this estimate:

When anti-gun activists list the number of deaths per year from firearms, they neglect to mention that 60 percent of the 30,000 figure they often use are suicides. They also fail to mention that at least three-quarters of the 12,000 homicides are criminals killing other criminals in disputes over illicit drugs, or police shooting criminals engaged in felonies. Subtracting those, we are left with no more than 3,000 deaths that I think most would consider truly lamentable.14

 Virtual RealityBrady continues:

These “shall-issue” carrying concealed weapons (“CCW”) laws require state authorities to issue CCW licenses to virtually anyone who applies, regardless of whether the applicant can demonstrate a need to carry a gun.15

 Summarizing the state of Texas CHL eligibility requirements, as one example, we find the applicant must:

·        Be qualified to purchase handgun under state and federal regulations.·        Be at least 21 years of age.·        Not be charged with or convicted of felony or class A or B misdemeanor.·        Not be delinquent in child support payments.·        Not be in default of student loan or delinquent on tax payments.·        Not be under restraining order.·        Not be suffering from psychiatric disorder or chemical dependency.·        Be capable of “exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun.16

 If such regulations allow “virtually anyone” to obtain a CCW, then Brady criteria prove that virtually the entire population is healthy, responsible and law-abiding.Anecdotes Are Not Scientific ResearchAppendix A of Forced Entry contains what Brady calls “The Incident File”.17 It lists 41 alleged firearm violations by RTC licensees, committed over the seven-year period of 1996-2002, 30 of which actually involved somebody getting shot. One of the incidents was ruled self-defense:

On July 6, 2001, an unnamed man fatally shot 17-year-old Jacob W. Walton during a road rage altercation in Spokane, WA.18,19

 Brady includes six incidents that were accidental discharges, leaving 23 incidents with criminal intent. Guy Smith, in his book Gun Facts, notes four violent acts and one property crime by gun control advocates during the year 2000: one shooting, two assaults, one theft, and one terrorist threat.20 Brady Campaign expects perfection from gun owners, but a search of its web site shows it is curiously quiet regarding these incidents. Anecdotes can be found for both sides of this argument, but they prove nothing except for Brady’s double standard.Brady Campaign set out to prove that guns are bad and RTC licensees are worse, but their own data sources prove the opposite.Endnotes[1] Legal Action Project, Forced Entry: The National Rifle Association’s Campaign To Force Business To Accept Guns At Work, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, November 2005. Forced Entry, page 1.3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-2: Fatal occupational injuries resulting from transportation incidents and homicides, All United States, 2003, U.S. Department of Labor, page 1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table R31: Number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work by event or exposure leading to injury or illness and selected natures of injury or illness, 2002, U.S. Department of Labor, page 13. Forced Entry, page 1. Forced Entry, page 1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2005, United States Department of Labor, August 10, 2006, page 2. Institute for Legislative Action, Right-to-Carry 2007, National Rifle Association, January 16, 2007. 9 Table 1 – Crime in the United States by Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1986 – 2005. John R. Lott, Jr., The Bias Against Guns, page 123.11 Ibid, page 107.12 Divide the numbers in Table 1 by the Total Non-farm employees for December 2005 in Bureau of Labor Statistics, Comparison of All Employees, not seasonally adjusted, 13 Table 1 – Crime in the United States by Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1986 – 2005. 14 Martin L. Fackler, Firearms in America: The Facts, NewsMax, Dece. 25, 2000. Forced Entry, page 1.16 Texas Concealed Handgun Laws and Selected Statutes, 2005-2006, Texas Department of Public Safety, January, 2006, pages 3-5. Forced Entry, page 15-18.18 Forced Entry, page 15.19 Concealed carry permit holder shooting ruled self-defense, Keep and Bear Arms, September 4&5, 2001. 20 Guy Smith, Gun Facts, Version 4.1, Copyright 2006, page 71.  About the AuthorHoward Nemerov is an investigative analyst for NRA News. He can be reached at HNemerov [at sign]