Rights of corporation and employee clash over use of weapon
By Steve Giegerich and Denise Hollinshed
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Missouri's firearm statutes gave the Domino's pizza deliveryman who shot
killed a would-be assailant Dec. 28 every right to use a legal weapon to
protect himself and his property.
By simply carrying the gun, however, the still unidentified employee
a company policy prohibiting Domino workers from packing a weapon even
happened in Ferguson on the night of the shooting, the employee was
To some, the circumstances raise questions about where the right of
citizens to legally keep and bear arms ends and the corporate right to
"I am not aware of a case quite like it," said Anders Walker, an
professor at St. Louis University. "The legal riddle is whether Domino's
fire this guy because, if he agreed to work for them and signed a contract,
he needs to abide by their policies."
To borrow a law school term, the question is moot: The deliveryman quit
shortly after the death of Brian Smith, 19, of Ferguson, in what
say was a robbery attempt.
Another teenager alleged to be Smith's accomplice, Rodney Reese, 18, of
University City, has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree
robbery and two counts of armed criminal action.
The deliveryman has not been charged.
Had he not resigned, a Domino's spokesman said this week, the company would
have disciplined the deliveryman.
Kerry Messer, a gun rights supporter and lobbyist for the Missouri Family
Network, said it's Domino's that stands guilty.
"For a company to ban (employees who deliver) from using firearms makes
sitting duck for criminals" in high-crime areas, said Messer.
He contends the deliveryman was protected by not only the state's concealed
weapons law but also the "Castle Doctrine" permitting Missourians to use
force to protect homes and, more recently, cars.
Other businesses that send workers on the road with cash have policies that
differ from Domino's.
Deferring to state firearm law, the St. Louis Taxi Commission leaves the
decision about allowing drivers to arm themselves up to the individual cab
St. Louis' Harris Cab Company, in turn, leaves the decision to the
of the drivers.
"We don't prevent drivers (from carrying) because we want them to be safe,"
said manager Shermand Palmer.
At Ferguson's Pantera's Pizza, manager Steve Moses subscribes to a
of don't ask, don't tell.
"They can't have a weapon in the store," he said. "But if they have a
in their car, I don't know about it. They aren't supposed to, though."
Moses said the popularity of cell phones has made the job of delivering
susceptible to assailants using false addresses to lure delivery drivers
Messer said that Domino's policy is "shortsighted."
"He did it legally. It's a shame his employment came under fire because
It's definitely not right," said Messer.