Monday, March 12, 2007

Firearms and Employer Parking Lots

Three different bills have been introduced into the Texas State Legislature that would give CHL holders the right to transport and store their handgun in locked private vehicles on company property and also provide immunity from liability for the employer.

The introduced bills are:

HB 220 - Relating to the rights and liabilities of an employer with respect to the carrying of a concealed handgun. (HB 511 is a duplicate of this bill)

HB 992 - Relating to certain rights and liabilities of an employer regarding an employee's access to a concealed handgun.

HB 1037 - Relating to certain rights and liabilities of an employer regarding an employee's access to a firearm.

Current law allows an employer to fire an employee who lawfully carries a firearm in a vehicle on a company parking lot. An opinion piece in today's Star Telegram does a much better job explaining just what is wrong with this picture.

By Marion P. Hammer (former president of the NRA)

The U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions guarantee the right to keep and bear arms. Transporting a firearm in your vehicle for protection while traveling to and from work, grocery shopping, to the doctor's office, to a shopping center or anywhere else people commonly travel is central to that right.

In Plona v. United Parcel Service, 2007 (U.S. District Court, N.D. Ohio), UPS fired an employee for having a firearm stored in his vehicle in a public-access parking lot used by UPS employees and customers. The court found that "the right to keep and bear arms" is enough to form the basis of a wrongful termination. Further, U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich found that "allowing an employer to terminate an employee for exercising a clearly established constitutional right jeopardizes that right, even if no state action is involved."

Businesses are prohibited from discriminating because of race, age, sex, religion, nationality, etc. And clearly they are also prohibited from discriminating against those who exercise their right to keep and bear arms for personal protection and other lawful purposes like hunting and target shooting.

Individual constitutional and legal rights do not end when we drive onto a business parking lot. Simply put, business property rights do not trump the Constitution or the law.

State legislatures have a duty to protect the constitutional rights of individuals from abuses. They must act as a shield to protect constitutional rights of the people; they also must act as the point of a sword to punish those who violate our inalienable rights. That is at the heart of this debate.

Businesses cannot substitute their own political philosophies for constitutional rights. And nowhere in the Constitution are businesses given any authority to prohibit rights in their parking lots. Businesses have no more right to ban firearms in private vehicles than they do to ban books. Businesses may impose only restrictions that do not rise to the level of contravening protected rights.

Nor can employers require you to waive your protected rights. They cannot, as a condition of employment, require you to give up your right to vote; neither can they require you to give up your right of self-protection or your right to keep and bear arms.
The article goes on to make both common and legal sense of the issue and is well worth the read.

Of the three bills listed above, HB 1037 is the one that I like best for several reasons. The main one is that it most protects a free citizens right to keep and bear arms.

All of these bills have heavy opposition, both from the anti's and from large corporations. If you are a Texan, and want to see one of these bills passed, you need to contact your representatives and let them know.


Anonymous said...

I am very interested in this as my employer also disallows employees to protect themselves "for their safety".

Personally, they can bite me. I've (a) got a 45 minute drive to and from work, during which time they provide no protection (b) have a CCW so if I got pissed off enough, I could drive 5 minutes to the gun store, pick up a Glock with appropriate ammo, and come back anyway (c) and I'm a law abiding citizen who would never do anything anyway so they'll never know.

Which isn't true I guess, as I'm politically at odds with everyone on my floor and everyone knows I'm a gun nut. It won't take more than 1 pissed off coworker to rat on me, but that's the chance I take.

I hope this law goes through and other states follow suit.

John R said...

These bills are stuck in the Law Enforcement Committee:

Contact the members and ask them to move on at least one of the bills (as I mentioned, I prefer 1037)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should clarify. I'm interested because I live in Florida and want to see if something like this goes through, then I can write my congresscritters and point them to something they can start with.

I can't understand why the police cannot search my vehicle without a warrant but my employer feels they're above that portion of the law.