Weapons in the workplace

Stay Calm

Keep in mind that an individual who threatens you with a weapon hasn't decided whether to us it or not.  In many cases the person is terrified.  If the person senses that you are losing control, it will most likely escalate the situation.

Avoid Rushing the Individual

Unless you feel it is your only option, attempting to disarm a person with a weapon is extremely dangerous.

Focus on the Individual, Not the Weapon

When threatened, the weapon is often the only object of our attention.  try to remember that a gun, for example, presents absolutely no danger to anyone until someone decides to fire it.  focus on the person holding the weapon, not the weapon itself.


This is not as complicated as it sounds.  Try to get as many little "yeses" from the person threatening you as possible.  Start with basic requests such as "Is it okay if I take a deep breath?"  the more "yeses" you can get, the better chance you'll have that the person won't use the weapon.

Step Back

Try to negotiate permission to take at least three steps away form the individual.  If allowed, the increased distance reduces both the person's anxiety and the accuracy of the weapon if it is used.

Buy Time

Time is an asset.  The longer you can talk to the individual, the less likely they are to use the weapon.


Weapons in the workplace are dangerous emergency situations that are best left to professionally trained law enforcement personnel.  However, if you find yourself trapped in a situation with no other options, you may choose to follow these suggestion until professional assistance arrives.

The above material was provided and copyrighted 1995 by the National Crisis Prevention Institute

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