Win for county workers with concealed-weapon permits

Those employees of the Brevard County Commission who have concealed-weapon permits now can bring their guns or electronic weapons to work in most cases.

In a 5-0 vote April 24, the commission reversed a 2015 ban on guns in the workplace to allow them subject to state law.

And Chairwoman Rita Pritchett, of Titusville, said she had no idea why nobody from the audience spoke up in the public hearing on Commissioner John Tobia’s initiative.

“I thought people would want to speak out,” she said after the meeting. “This was in the papers and everything. But nobody showed up.”

That wasn’t the only unexpected part of the vote. Commissioner Curt Smith, of Melbourne, who typically votes opposite Tobia on significant issues, and actually voted in 2015 for the gun ban, joined Tobia for a unanimous vote.

But they did argue over one detail. Smith wanted to coordinate the new gun allowance with Sheriff Wayne Ivey and have him train those employees with concealed-weapon permits.

Tobia and Vice Chairwoman Kristine Isnardi, both of Palm Bay, said they would encourage people to keep up their training – voluntarily.

But the state’s concealed-weapon licensing program makes the identities of the licensees exempt from the Public Records Law. And to require the added training would publicly identify them, Tobia said. “That would have been a horrible idea.”

Tobia said he sponsored the measure because the county’s original “Zero Tolerance for Violence in the Workplace” policy runs counter to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. The amended county policy echoes state law by barring an employee from taking the concealed weapons into sheriff or police stations, courthouses, jails, polling places or County Commission meetings.

In addition, the policy, which went into effect the day it was approved, will:

  •  Require an employee to conceal his gun at all times. Tobia did agree to one change from Pritchett, to allow the employee to keep the gun locked in a desk, briefcase or purse.
  •  Prohibit an employee from leaving a gun in an unoccupied county vehicle.
  • Prohibit an employee from carrying a gun on a workday when he would likely enter one of the gun-restricted buildings.
  •  Grant County Manager Frank Abbate to authority to bar specific employee groups from carrying guns if their duties would render it unsafe.  

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