We carry employer owned and issued firearms as part of our job (public safety at a university), the employer has now determined that the employees must take the firearm home in order to disassemble it and clean it as they will not allow us to clean it at work. The Administration claims it’s because there are certain officers that just cannot safely do it.

Is the employer is required to pay for the time spent cleaning the firearm and the cleaning supplies/equipment to do it?

More importantly is the employer now liable for any damage or injuries that may occur for a negligent discharge while at the employees' house?

Since I am also a certified firearms instructor (independent, not for the Univ.) I completely object to anyone that does not know how to safely handle, breakdown and clean a firearm from being issued a firearm much less carrying one... but that’s a different story.

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    So because some employees cannot perform this procedure safely in the workplace, they are now required to do it at home? That sounds messed up! Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 13:21
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    "The Administration claims it’s because there are certain officers that just cannot safely do it." Then those officers should not be provided with firearms.
    – sf02
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 13:22
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    There are a ton of legal questions here, and the whole thing sounds like an attempt to "minimize liability" for the employer. Except that the opposite may in fact be happening, since they are now asking employees to take firearms home to evade actually resolving the underlying issue, which is that they can't safely maintain them on site, or don't want to the liability/insurance costs associated with doing so. Sadly a question for the lawyers. Probably depends on state. (assuming this is in the US). 100% certain you should be paid for this, all the more if it is a hazardous activity.
    – Pete W
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 14:10
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    I suspect if cleaning some tool is so unsafe that it cannot be done in the workplace, an expert should be paid to safely do it at a safe location. Having said that, if you're in the US, you're probably at-will, so god only knows the blowback (pun intended) if you push the issue. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 14:22
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    How in the world does a public safety officer get issued a company-owned gun and the authority to wield it on campus if the university does not believe they are capable of handling it safely? What exactly are the safety concerns around cleaning the weapons at work that are mitigated by cleaning them at home?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 15:51

4 Answers 4


I am a firearm owner in the United States, having my CCW permit and also participate in practical shooting as a sport.

As a firearms instructor, you are in a good position to advise the administration of the risks of having employer owned weapons cleaned at home. Your concern is completely valid , as an improperly maintained weapon is a danger to the shooter and sometimes, others. Your greatest asset here is your subject matter expertise, so use it to your advantage. I would do the following:

  1. Acknowledge there may be some validity in administration's claims and improper cleaning of the gun is itself a safety hazard. Show you understand the other side and are open to cooperating.

  2. Write to administration and / or campus public safety and spell out the risks of this new policy (improper maintenance due to lack of know how leading to unavailability of gun when needed , negligent discharge or, god forbid, criminal misuse etc.)

  3. Ask if they are willing to accept the risks outlined and the consequences if things go south due to this new policy.

Having identified the risks and provided a warning, it would also be beneficial for you to provide possible solutions to mitigate such risks such as the below:

  • Professional instruction in weapons maintenance. Your background would be invaluable here and may even be able to offer instruction yourself.

  • If not already the case, considering asking administration to standardize on issued firearms. Having to deal with multiple and possibly unfamiliar firearm models can make access to maintenance difficult. Lack of access to professional gunsmiths could force officers into inadequate / dangerous DIY jobs. Standardize on a brand that is in common use such as Sig Sauer, Glock, Smith Wesson etc. in lieu of the arcane.

  • Choosing weapons that contain a minimum of moving parts so they are easier to strip and brands / models known for their reliability so the weapons don’t need as frequent cleaning. Good examples here are Glock (only 5 parts fully disassembled) , and Sig Sauer P320 series (no tools needed to disassemble due to modular design). I owned both and can attest to ease of maintenance.

  • If long guns, such as shotguns, are used, choosing reliable , well known models where maintenance know how is readily available such as Remington 870 or Mossberg 500. Only chose action and gauge (e.g: pump , 20) you can comfortably use to reduce jams and enforce correct shooting technique. Reduced jams = reduced need to clean gun.

  • Considering revolvers over semi automatic pistols, if you are OK with only six shots per wheel and an increased reload time / difficulty. These guns by their very architecture have less moving parts and cleaning only needs to be done in the barrel and the individual firing chambers.

  • Avoiding handguns families that are generally harder to maintain and clean such as any of the subcompact handgun types. Avoid brands notorious for being finicky such as Ruger MK II.

  • Avoid ammunition types / families that tend to leave increased residual or are associated with firing issues (e.g: squib loads) as to necessitate more frequent cleaning. Stick to reliable, high quality ammo brands such as Hornady, Federal , Winchester etc.

  • If administration concerns about officer lack of ability to clean the guns is due to inherently dangerous situations such as squib loads or hang fire, advise how these occur, why they are dangerous (easily cause gun to explode and result in unexpected discharge) and how to recognize such situations in addition to mitigate them from occurring.

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    I'll add the bullet, "* propose a contract service to clean the guns for all/some armed employees" Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 21:23
  • If proper guns are chosen and OP has the background, not outsourcing could be cost saver
    – Anthony
    Commented Mar 30, 2023 at 20:39

I believe your next step is to establish the norms for your industry, and related industries.

Police and other security professionals would have the same issue. I have absolutely no idea where they perform maintenance on their tools.

Ultimately, because you are an employee, and your employer is providing the tool, they are required to either supply the tool so it is in safe working order, or provide you a place where it can be maintained.

If you were a contractor who supplies their own tools, you would be responsible for ensuring your tools were in good working order.

Because you are a firearms instructor, I'm sure you can ask around what is normal.

It is difficult for us to determine what is legal for the country/state you are in, so if you need a more specific answer, probably best to ask in Law SE.


I'm not a lawyer

Is the employer is required to pay for the time spent cleaning the firearm and the cleaning supplies/equipment to do it?

Yes. Just like someone working from home, the employer is required to pay hours worked. Pretty sure it doesn't matter where you are working.

More importantly is the employer now liable for any damage or injuries that may occur for a negligent discharge while at the employees' house?

I'm not a lawyer, but you've just pointed out a major liability with this plan.

The Administration claims it’s because there are certain officers that just cannot safely do it.

Even if the university isn't liable legally, they likely will be liable in the court of public opinion when someone without the proper training accidentally discharges a university issue firearm in their neighborhood and hurts someone.

From your post it sounds like you may work for the university, but not as a firearms instructor. Since you're certified, approach your supervisor with the suggestion to do training regularly. Something like

I know not all the officers are comfortable maintaining their firearms. I'm a certified instructor (have paperwork ready), and I think it would be a great idea to have training once a month on Thursday (or whatever time-frame makes sense). Will you sign off on this?

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    Unless you are a labor-lawyer, in the OP's jurisdiction, I don't think you should be answering with a definitive "yes". Read a bit about, in the US, the requirement for compensating employees for changing in and out of work clothing. It isn't cut and dry. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 16:29
  • How can you assert that the university would be liable for accidents, without having seen the actual employment contract which no doubt includes liability waivers regarding the firearms?
    – SquiddleXO
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 22:07
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    @SquiddleXO It's not a matter of contract. If a university employee injures me while cleaning his university owned gun on orders of the university, then I am free to sue anyone for damages that I want, and I will sue the university because they have the money. It is very, very hard to construct a case where they wouldn't be responsible or partially responsible. And if they are just 1% responsible, I can ask them to pay all damages. Third parties don't care about liability waivers.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 14:07
  • The OP may be setting himself up to be liable for any incident if he volunteers to perform this training and one of the trainees screws up. Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 19:33
  • The answer for the first question is not "YES", it is "IT DEPENDS". Every lawyer always answers, it depends. There's too many details for definitive answers in all cases. Teachers perform a huge amount of work outside of the classroom, and receive no pay for it. I'd look for guidance on what other organizations are doing, or find the organization you'd like your company to model, and guide the company to it's protocols.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Jan 3 at 16:51

The situation you describe is unreasonable on the part of the university, and present day politics being what they are I wonder if it's motivated by the administration's own attitudes about firearms and firearm owners in general. That said, sounds like you're asking us about what's in your contract. Shouldn't you have read it and cleared up things like cleaning equipment at home when you took the job?

If your contract specifies (and is legally valid) then obviously the answer is whatever your contract says. If you are asking whether it's okay (ethically speaking) for the contract to specify one way or the other, no it's no nice of them to ask you to do work at your own home on your own time but there's not much stopping them. Sounds like it's an unprofessional employer and maybe you could do better elsewhere.

If the contract does not specify, then it depends on the laws of wherever you are. That is also a question not for us, but for a lawyer familiar with your jurisdiction. If you want to try and sue the university to make them bend your way, go ahead and set up an appointment with a lawyer and give it a try. Beyond that, there's no useful legal advice we can give here. Except that it would probably be much easier to simply quit and go elsewhere.

If neither your contract nor the law specifies anything, generally speaking, whether you clean your firearm at home or at work makes little difference to what they have to pay for. People taking work home is common in many jobs and if they want to set boundaries on that it's basically between them and the employer. Your situation doesn't sound too different.

A very common situation is salaried employment at-will. If this is you, they can basically ask anything they want (unless illegal) and they don't have to pay for any of it. If you refuse they can fire you and they are not required to give a reason. The viable option here is to have leverage (such as being a valued employee that they don't want to let go) and persuade them to reconsider their unreasonable demands.

If you are instead hourly you probably have some sort of timesheets you fill out. You must have received instructions on how to fill those. Within those instructions you can try to simply put in the gun cleaning as additional time for which they should pay you. Maybe you can even ask for overtime pay since it must necessarily happen after work. Your employer may or may not accept this. It is up to you to negotiate or quit. That said, cleaning a gun takes a few minutes, so I'm not sure if it will amount to anything in the end.

Likewise you can also put in an expense through your HR, or whoever manages it, to compensate you for the gun cleaning supplies. Usually cleaning a gun costs pennies - a few drops from a cheap bottle of oil and a few old rags. But if you feel strongly about being reimbursed for this you can make a case to your manager. Again, they are not required to see things your way, so it's up to you to talk them into a yes, or accept a no, or quit.

More importantly is the employer now liable for any damage or injuries that may occur for a negligent discharge while at the employees' house?

IF there is no specific clause covering this, AND IF your employer recognizes this as "work" (eg. by accepting your timesheets showing "gun cleaning" at home) then they would probably carry at least some liability for accidents connected with cleaning the gun because they happened while you were fulfilling your job duties with equipment provided by them. If you are concerned you should talk to a lawyer and/or insurance carrier.

However, I find it very hard to imagine that a university would hire people to carry around guns they issue and not have stacks of liability waivers and other things that you have to sign. It's probably not a matter of general practice but a matter of what your actual contract says. Again, we cannot know that. But bear in mind also that just because they are liable doesn't mean they are at fault. With a negligent discharge, it could easily be argued that it is still your fault because you were the one being negligent. They may even sue you on top of that for damaging their reputation. It's a complicated matter best discussed with a lawyer and a deep knowledge of the applicable details.

  • "That said, sounds like you're asking us about what's in your contract. Shouldn't you have read it and cleared up things like cleaning equipment at home when you took the job?" Oh please! Nobody reads contracts. Your employer knows that. That's why they're so long and unwieldy with a bunch of Shakespearean language. They're designed to not be read by anyone.
    – Justa Guy
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 0:11

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