Armed vs Unarmed Security Guards: Which Type Do You Need?

Armed vs Unarmed Security Guards: Which Type Do You Need?

Upon first consideration, it may seem obvious that armed guards would provide more security than unarmed ones. Dig a little deeper, however, and you will see that the decision between armed vs unarmed security guards is not so clear-cut.

How can you choose the best type of guard for your setting? This guide to choosing between armed and unarmed guards for your setting can help your decision-making process.

Times to Consider Armed Guards

In some settings, armed guards are the best fit for the security needs of the facility or event. The decision to use armed personnel should be made with careful consideration and a high regard for safety and security.

Priceless Valuables Are Involved

There are some treasures that require the highest level of safekeeping. If your goal in hiring security guards is to protect valuables of great worth, such as priceless jewels or art, you may want to consider armed guards.

The presence of security guards who carry lethal weapons may discourage attempts at theft or other crimes. If someone does attempt to vandalize or steal the valuables, an armed guard can match the weapons of the criminals, who may well be armed themselves.

Violent Situations Often Occur

Some settings are more prone to violent outbreaks than others.

One example is establishments in high-crime areas, particularly ones that operate during late-night hours, such as bars and nightclubs. Another example is hospital emergency rooms, especially those that frequently treat those involved in gang fights or other criminal activities.

When determining whether to put armed guards in your violence-prone location, consider whether the presence of armed guards will serve to diffuse tension and safeguard against violence or whether the sight of a gun may provoke further escalation.

There is no hard-and-fast rule for this; you must evaluate the specifics of your situation to determine what is best.

Guards Will Be Behind the Scenes

Although armed security guards may put business owners at ease, knowing that their goods and property are securely protected, they can also set clients and customers on edge.

Seeing an armed guard may introduce the thought that the business is not a safe place to be, so the security team must carry guns in order to protect it.

Therefore, armed guards are often best used in behind-the-scenes roles, rather than directly in the public's eye. They can quickly appear on the scene when needed, but until then, they are able to remain out of sight of the general public.

Reasons to Hire Unarmed Guards

Although some situations warrant the use of armed security personnel, many settings can be kept secure without the use of lethal force. Business owners and event organizers can rest assured that unarmed guards provide sufficient security in most scenarios.

You Want to Save Money

As a general rule, armed guards cost more than unarmed ones. For those on a limited budget, this may automatically make unarmed guards the most logical choice.

Beyond the increased hourly fee for armed guards, there may also be other costs that come with hiring armed security. For example, if you keep an armed detail on your premises, your insurance costs may go up.

You Want to Avoid Liability

Property owners may be held liable for the actions of the security guards on their grounds. If an armed guard shoots someone and causes injury or death, you could be held responsible.

If you are not comfortable with this level of liability, consider hiring unarmed security, who can use non-lethal weapons to deter crime and violence. These may include tasers, batons and sprays: effective without being deadly.

If you do choose to accept the responsibility that comes with hiring armed guards, ensure they are licensed and have met at least the minimum requirements for armed security in your state.

In the video "Armed Security Guard Training Requirements," learn about the minimum number of training hours that are required in some states, including New York and Florida.

You may want to ask your security company if they can provide guards who are former police officers or military personnel since these groups receive extensive training in weapons and their use.

Access to Law Enforcement Is Quick

If police officers can be quickly deployed to your site, you may not need armed guards. Instead, set your unarmed security team up with communications tools with which they can get in touch with police.

For settings in which multiple unarmed security guards are on site, they should also have an easy way to communicate with one another, such as two-way radios.

This allows the guards to call for on-site backup in emergency situations. With backup, guards may be able to diffuse the tension on their own or maintain the situation until police arrive.

How to Make the Final Decision

So how can you decide which type of security guards are best for your situation? There are circumstances that will be best served by armed guards, while in other settings unarmed guards are best. You will have to weigh the various factors for your particular situation when making a decision.

You don't have to make this decision alone, however. The security company you hire can be a valuable source of information. Ask their experts for advice on whether armed or unarmed guards are best for your setting.

By evaluating the specific factors at play at your event or facility and considering the expert input of a security firm, you can make an informed, reliable decision about the best approach for your needs.

To recap, armed guards are ideal for situations where:
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    Valuables are being safeguarded.
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    Violence is commonplace.
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    Guards can stay out of the public's sight.
Unarmed guards are good if:
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    You want to limit spending and liability.
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    Guards can quickly call police.

Leave your questions about armed vs unarmed security guards in the comments.

About the Author Richard Allen

Mr. Allen is the Founder & President of American Protect Bureau (APB). APB is a licensed, bonded and insured private security company. He is a well respected industry expert with extensive knowledge and over 25 years experience in all aspects of security and protection. Having personally provided security for some of the hottest nightclubs and highest profile people, he understands first-hand what it takes to ensure venues are protected and people are kept safe. Richard conveys this point to every single security guard employed by his company.