America’s gun-toting guards armed with poor training, little oversight

Center for Investigative Reporting, By Shoshana Walter & Ryan Gabrielson, December 9

  • Lack of consistent regulation and training has put the public – and armed guards – at risk.
  • States have allowed people prohibited by law from owning a gun to work as armed guards.
  • The presence of an armed security guard increases the chance of violence in bank robberies, FBI data shows.
  • Armed guards can work in some states even with restraining orders and domestic violence convictions.
  • In 15 states, a person can become an armed guard without any firearms training.

Armed security guards have become a ubiquitous presence in modern life, projecting an image of safety amid public fears of mass shootings and terrorism. But often, it’s the guards themselves who pose the threat.

Across the U.S., a haphazard system of lax laws, minimal oversight and almost no accountability puts guns in the hands of guards who endanger public safety, a yearlong investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting and CNN has found.

Men and women who have never fired a gun in their lives can set off on patrol in uniform, wearing a badge and carrying a loaded weapon, with only a few hours of training, if any. In 15 states, guards can openly carry guns on the job without any firearms training at all.

The results can be as tragic as they are predictable.

Near Atlanta, a former sheriff’s deputy accused of erratic and threatening behavior at his old job later gunned down an unarmed man at his new job – patrolling an apartment complex. In Arizona, an armed guard prohibited by law from possessing a gun shot a teenager who was helping shoplift food from a convenience store, paralyzing the teen from the waist down.

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