Thursday, June 05, 2003

This may or may not be of assistance to you, but feel free to use it if you wish. The following is a sample letter to be given to companies, corporations, businesses, etc.. that have policies against carrying arms or defending ones self on the job. I do not know if it will be at all effective, but any & all feedback would be appreciated.

Company Policy Regarding Personal Security & Risk Management

It is a standard policy among many companies & corporations to prohibit any resistance to an actual threat. It is also standard to prohibit employees from carrying any means of resistance to potential threats. There are various reasons given for the enactment & enforcement of these policies, ranging from a belief that this will protect employees to limiting a company or corporation’s legal liability should an attacker or 3rd party be injured in the course of an employee defending him/herself.
I assert that the reasoning behind these policies is flawed & in fact more dangerous to the employee & employer than the perceived danger that is the basis of these policies.

First allow me to address the question of compliance when faced with a threat:

The logic behind compliance with an attacker’s demands as it relates to company policy is that the attacker will not harm the employee as long as the demands are met. This is flawed reasoning on a number of levels.

First we have to assume that the attacker wants a specific thing, such as money, jewelry, etc. This is often the prime motivation for an attack but by no means is it the sole reason. Many attacks occur simply to satisfy a desire to hurt someone else. Some attacks, albeit fewer than the first two categories, occur because of mistaken identity. Attacks can also have multiple motives. For example robbing someone with the intent to hurt them after the objects of the robbery have been obtained is not uncommon. & there is always the possibility that an attacker will harm the victim solely to make the victim unwilling or unable to identify them.
There is enough of a chance that attackers’ motives are not limited to theft that a policy of compliance will not prevent & may even encourage violence against an employee.

Second we must assume that for a compliance doctrine to be effective, the attackers’ are trustworthy. In essence the compliance doctrine establishes a contractual relationship between attacker & victim. The essence of the contract is that if the victim complies with the attackers’ demands, then the victim will not be harmed. Admittedly this may work in some instances, but only where the attacker is motivated solely by theft, is not concerned about the victim making an identification & does not have the desire &/or capacity to inflict violence upon the victim. Now if we assume that a high percentage of confrontations meet the criteria for the compliance policy to be effective we must also realize that the remaining situations will not meet the criteria for the compliance policy to be beneficial to the victim. In fact, in non-robbery or dual-purpose encounters the compliance doctrine benefits the attacker while increasing the risk for the victim.

In essence, the compliance doctrine relies on the attacker being willing to threaten violence, but not actually act upon that threat. This is simply not a logical assumption to make. Should a person be willing to threaten violence against another person, we should not assume that it is a bluff, or even that if the demands are met then there will be no realization of the threat. Rather, we should assume that any person who is willing to threaten violence against another person unless demands are met is not only capable, but likely to carry out that threat regardless of whether the demands are met or not. While statistically it may be that only a small percentage of attackers mean to commit harm, or actually commit harm to their victim I do not know of anyone who would, given an alternative, ask their loved ones to risk encountering that percentage of attackers no matter how remote the chances are. This is no more than a lottery, where the employee is forced to adopt a policy that simply does not work in all cases because there is a misguided belief that it works in the majority of cases.

Company policy also prohibits the carrying of any type of weapon or object that can be used for personal defense. This too is an unwise approach that causes more harm than it remedies.

Weapons have been the companion of humans since the dawn of humanity. They are tools whose purpose is quite simple: providing an advantage to those who are challenged by a physically superior force. Currently their very existence is often frowned upon. This is based on an irrational fear of the weapon itself more than the belief that all humans are evil. The company policy concerning weapons & other objects of defense reflects this trend & for absolutely no good reason.

There are two primary justifications for prohibiting weapons & other objects of defense: A fear that the presence of a weapon will escalate into violence & potential legal liability for the company &/or corporation.

The idea that an employee possessing a weapon during a confrontation will cause violence to erupt where there was no potential for violence to begin with is flawed.

For that assumption to be true we must have a situation where only a threat to the attacker would cause violence. In essence we are thinking that the attacker is bluffing. By following that logic we would also conclude that since the attacker is bluffing then as long as no threat were presented there would be no violence even if the demands were not met. That’s a very interesting way of saying that an attacker will not harm you even if you refuse to meet the demands given. & if that were true then robbery would disappear. After all if there is no danger of violence then why would anyone meet demands that are not agreeable?

The facts however are that an attacker who threatens violence will not act upon that threat solely because of the presence of a weapon. In fact it is more logical to assume that an attacker will not act upon a threat of violence if he is faced with a victim who is armed equally. Most attackers, assuming that robbery is the main or sole motive will seek easier victims than go through the risk of a violent encounter with an armed opponent. Those that are not deterred by an armed victim ready & capable of self defense would not be prevented from committing any violent acts merely because demands were met to satisfaction.

In fact it has been estimated that between 40,000 & 2,000,000 crimes are prevented every year merely because the victim possessed & showed a weapon to an attacker.

The presence of a weapon will not typically escalate a situation to violence when there was little or no threat of violence to begin with. In fact the presence of a weapon is much more likely to prevent violence.

The legal liability of a company or corporation is always a concern, but I feel there are some aspects which have been neglected.

It is true that should an employee cause harm to an assailant or in the process of defense a 3rd party that there exists a real potential for litigation. However there is another possible claimant that is being neglected, & one who offers a much stronger case in a civil trial: an employee &/or the family of an employee.

Should an employee be injured or killed by an attacker while following company policy regarding compliance & the absence of defensive tools, then a very real possibility exists that a lawsuit could be brought against the company or corporation for putting an employee at greater risk than would otherwise have occurred.

The ideal case for this would be an employee who had no weapons & offered no resistance as per company policy, yet was injured or killed by an attacker, despite having some reasonable degree of competence with self defense & the tools used therein. The claim would be that the company policy created an unnecessary hazard to the employee that resulted in injury &/or death. It in essence deprived the employee the fundamental Right of Self Defense while offering no compensatory protection.

The company would have to prove that they did in fact offer adequate protection for the employee while he was obligated to forego his ability to defend himself. As pointed out above a very reasonable & persuasive argument can be made that compliance & lack of defensive tools are not adequately substituted by hoping that an attacker will commit violence.

Now with all litigation involving juries there is a chance that any claims will be dismissed. However given a jury composed of people in a region where Self Defense & the carrying of weapons are regarded as basic & inherent Rights the odds are greatly against the company &/or corporation.

There are other reasons for changing company policy in regards to compliance & the use of defensive weapons.

Currently the U.S. is under a threat, albeit to varying degrees, of attack from foreign sources. The nature of the attacks in the past indicates that compliance is not effective as it just makes the attackers’ job easier with absolutely no benefit to the victims. Now, just as before all citizens are expected to provide for the common defense. In order to assist in the common defense it is reasonable to expect that every citizen who is able & willing have on or near their person the tools needed for defense. This would mean weapons or other objects of defense. This country was founded with the idea that all citizens are responsible for the collective defense. At the time this concept was embodied in the militia. It is still in effect today. Congress has defined the militia as all able bodied males between the ages of 17 & 45 & given the civil rights movement that should be assumed to encompass females as well. This can be found at 10 U.S.C. § 311 (enacted 1956, amended 1958). So to prohibit the possession of weapons &/or other objects of defense company policy is in effect negating a resource that the country has been dependent upon since its inception.

Another aspect is societal protection. Should an attack be made then the chances of apprehending, identifying & prosecution the attacker are slim. This is due mostly to the fact that eye witness testimony is the least reliable form of evidence & often the only form of evidence in these types of cases. For this reason among others all who participate in society are obligated to act in the common defense of society. This not only includes being a good witness to a crime, but if possible attempting to prevent the crime &/or apprehending the perpetrator. It is much safer for society, which includes the company/corporation & employees, if a person who attempts to commit an act of violence is not subject to the consequences of their acts. This is not to say one must act foolishly in an attempt to apprehend a criminal, but where & when able a person is obligated to prevent a person escaping justice.

Currently it is assumed that most employees of certain companies/corporations are easy targets. While potentially not having access to large amounts of money this is negated by their obliged compliance & the lack of means to resist. This encourages rather than discourages criminal behavior. Procedures which limit the amount of money available to a thief do not deter them, as petty thefts are by far the most prevalent crimes involving robbery.

However should a small amount of money accessible to a potential victim coupled with no obligation of compliance, no prohibition on resistance & no prohibition on defensive tools become the policy then the deterrent factor would be measurably increased.

& lastly should an attacker be intent upon violence then the only persuasion that will deter him is violence. It is reasonable to conclude that when threatening violence the person intends to act upon it, even to the point of causing the death of the victim. Therefore logic would dictate that since compliance will only result in a victims injury &/or death, then nothing is lost in an attempt to use violence to deter or incapacitate the attacker.

Therefore I propose that the company policy regarding compliance & weapons be rescinded.

In its place there should be a policy of resistance to any & all threats of violence whether this resistance comprises an attempt at escaping the situation or actively resisting the attacker.

Further that no prohibitions be placed upon an employee carrying or possessing a weapon or other toll suitable for defensive purposes.

To ensure that this policy is understood & to make clear the legal ramifications of it I would recommend a waiver be signed by every employee absolving the company/corporation of any liability in the event of negligence, incidental or purposeful injury caused directly or indirectly by the employee.

I would also recommend that the company/corporation either;

A: Establish & institute a training program that focuses on crime prevention as well as self defense

B: Provide incentive for employees to take defensive instruction (such as a credited vacation day to every day they spend taking an approved defensive course)

C: Both A & B

If any further discussion is required feel free to contac me at ______________________

Thank you for your time.



No comments: