Reducing the Cost of Inflicting Violence on Employees

AutoZone employee Devin McClean used his personal firearm to protect his employer’s property. Such a deed would be seen as noble to many but the higher ups at AutoZone rewarded the diligent work of their employee by firing him:

After AutoZone employee Devin McClean stopped a serial thief from robbing the local auto parts store in York County, Virginia, some hailed him as a hero, but not the head honchoes at AutoZone. They saw McClean’s actions as a reason for termination.


An Autozone representative told a local news channel that the company has a zero tolerance policy for employees bringing weapons into their stores.

I’m not going to spend a great deal of time chiding AutoZone. Their stores are their property and that means they get to make the rules. What I am going to spend time discussing is the ramifications of AutoZone’s actions.

AutoZone has officially notified the world that their stores can be generally considered weapon-free zones. This means that individuals wanting to rob AutoZone stores or to inflict physical harm against AutoZone employees can be reasonably assured that little threat exists to them. The cost of committing violence in AutoZone stores has been reduced meaning the likelihood of violence being committed in those stores has increased.

What are the negative consequences of allowing employees to carry weapons at their place of work? There is the potential of frightening customers if the weapon is seen by there is no risk of any harm coming to an employee or the property. The possibility of customers being frightened by an employees weapon could be handled by a policy that states all employee carried weapons must remain concealed at all times. A mandatory concealment policy would alleviate the risk of frightening customers while keeping the cost of performing violence up. Unfortunately the higher ups at AutoZone have decided to opt for the lose-lose scenarior where employees that arm themselves must face the risk of being fired while criminals know that AutoZone stores are unlikely to offer much in the way of resistance.