Utah Self Defense and Employment

I am not an attorney, but I have a passing acquaintance with the law.  This may be big.  Right now the decision applies only to Utah.  Check the link for the report in the Wall Street Journal.

Court_ Threatened Wal-Mart Employees Have the Right to Stand Their Ground – Law Blog – WSJ

In a nutshell employees of a Utah Wal-Mart attempted to stop shoplifters exiting the store (2 incidents) when confronted the shoplifters produced weapons.  This changed a simple shoplifting into a robbery.  The employees disarmed the crooks and were later fired by Wal- Mart.  Wal-Mart policy calls for employees to abandon enforcement efforts at the first sign of resistance.

The employees argued and the Utah Supreme Court agreed that Utah law gave citizens the right to self defense and that Wal-Mart could not take that right away by virtue of employment.  This would seem to apply to Pizza delivery drivers, convenience store clerks any employee subject to robbery or violence by virtue of their employment.

In the late sixties and early seventies Southland Corporation devoted a lot of time and effort to trying to lessen the impact of robberies.  They concluded that robbers were rational and profit driven.  Southland (7-11) redesigned stores, instituted money drops, and instructed clerks to cooperate.  The goal was to make the physical location less friendly to the robber, limit the amount of money available to steal, and not escalate the confrontation to the point of violence.  This policy made a certain amount of sense when robbers were rational. The philosophy worked until the advent of crack cocaine and now ice.

I would maintain a rational robber is in the minority, these days. Sometimes the robbery is nothing more than an excuse for the shooting that follows.  Your kid got accepted to Harvard and he sure is proud.  Somewhere there is a guy the same age who just gunned down a store clerk and that guy is glowing with the same sense of achievement as your Harvard boy.  Rather than saying, “that’s crazy” try a line from Billy Strayhorne, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Your horizons are not as broad as you might think.

This ruling will cause companies to reevaluate their security model.  It may expand beyond retail.  Try this scenario, you drive to work and park in a company parking lot.  The company bans guns on the premises, under the Utah ruling is the company denying you your right to self defense? What if you don’t like leaving a weapon unattended in your car?  Should the company provide a secure lockbox on the premise?

The local movie theater bans firearms on its premises.  The Utah law is not likely to affect this policy, directly. Is the theater now obligated to provide a higher level of security since they have denied you the right to self defense? You can choose to attend or not attend the theater without a major disruption to your life.

Keep in mind that in the Heller decision the United States Supreme Court stated that the right of self defense is implicit in the 2nd Amendment.

As a teaser I’ll leave you with this.  Are major retail outlets and chain restaurants making it easier for the locations to be robbed?  My suspicion is that serial robbers may choose one chain over another and it is not because of brand loyalty.