Here's something I didn't expect to read today:
It’s been more than 85 years – back in the days when gangsters Dean O’Banion and Al Capone went to war over Chicago – that accountants have felt compelled to carry firearms for personal protection. Yet the anecdotal evidence is that a rising number of accountants are packing a pistol in amongst their iPads and laptops.
Anecdotal evidence! Well, that's good enough for me! Shall we go on?
Policies in the Workplace. Strangely, few employee handbooks or HR policies cover the issue of bringing a handgun in to the office. And under the laws of many states, such policies might be ruled unconstitutional anyway. Even then, if the employee is circumspect, and does not show the firearm to anyone, the policy would only be enforced after the fact. Some 15 states now have laws limiting the ability of employees to carry weapons into the workplace. Even in these states, it may be permissible for employees to keep their firearms locked in their cars in the company parking lot.
Policies with Client Facilities. Regardless of the policies of the accounting firm, the issue becomes more complicated when visiting the offices of clients and prospects. It may present an awkward discussion, particularly if the client is new or the policies of the client may be at odds with those of the accounting firm (e.g., may the client carry a firearm to the accountant’s office?).
Unlike many social issues, this discussion is not just philosophical. For some, the presence of a firearm connotes a feeling of security, while in other cases a feeling of fear.
And at the heart of the question is the basic position of the firm – remain silent, or risk losing the client?
Advising Clients on their Policies. As accounting firms continue to take on the roles as trusted business advisors, and as payroll software continues to expand into HR policy, accounting firms will be drawn deeper into policy issues that may affect the growth and stability of its client companies. For example, will a policy one way or the other affect the ability to attract bank loans or investors? How will it impact present or potential shareholders, or the ability to attract the best employees?
Hold the fucking phone. IS THIS A POTENTIAL NEW REVENUE STREAM? In other words, if a client comes to you and says, "You know, we're thinking of writing up a formal policy that would allow our employees to carry guns to work. What do you think?" How do you, trusted capital market servant who probably has an intimate knowledge of the 2nd Amendment and state gun laws, respond? You are trusted advisors after all, so naturally it's incumbent upon you to come up with something, is it not? There are several billable hours — or value pricing opportunities! — at stake here. You don't want to risk a client relationship because you're some liberal who wants to take all the guns away.
I suppose there are situations that I'm not thinking of — PCAOB inspections, IRS audits, etc. — where cooler heads don't always prevail, but even in those instances, are accountants worried that they'll need protection? I don't think so.
Can we all agree to carry water pistols instead? They're way more fun and no one dies. Plus, with the rise of the paperless office, the risk of ruined workpapers is diminished. Let's find another solution, people.