IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. -- County employees carrying weapons at work; is it reassuring or concerning?
The discussion happened Tuesday evening in Iredell County before it goes up for a vote. County commissioners said the proposal to allow employees to carry concealed weapons is about saving lives.
But some employees who spoke out said if it passes, it could put their lives in danger.
Mass shootings in San Bernardino, at Sandy Hook Elementary, and dozens of others across the country prompted Iredell County Commissioners to re-examine the safety and security of county employees.
"We're trying to be proactive," said Commissioner Gene Houpe. "We're trying to put forth multiple mechanisms and multiple layers of security."
Commissioners proposed a law to allow employees with a valid concealed carry permit to carry at work.
"I want you to be able to defend yourself if someone comes in with the intent to do you harm," said Houpe.
It's in addition to new camera systems, active shooter training sessions, and lock down modifications made to county buildings.
But some said the proposal goes too far.
“The burden should not be on the employees to protect themselves,” said former county employee Robin Williams.
“Sounds like we’re trying to do it on the cheap,” Charles Stephens said.
Some employees recommend the installation of metal detectors and additional security or police officers assigned to each building.
Commissioners said it is something they are looking into, but fear, security guards alone make for a soft target.
“The first person you’re going to avoid or the first person you’ll try to take out if you’re a criminal is the person that’s armed because you know that person is your only line of defense,” said Houpe.
There are several provisions in the proposal. Those carrying: must be in good standing with all county, state, and federal laws, must consent to criminal background check, and must complete annual mandatory training provided by Iredell County.
And county employees who are not allowed to conceal carry at work are those at any county properties that include state or federal offices, school facilities, and recreational facilities.
Commissioners also said employees would not be able to carry a weapon into a disciplinary meeting.
They hope a decision will be made by January 1, 2017.