Friday, December 05, 2008

Employer Parking Lots and Firearms - A Poll

During the upcoming Texas legislative session there will be a push to pass legislation that would allow an employee to store a firearm in their vehicle while at work without fear of reprisal by their employer for doing so.

I fully support a citizen's right to keep and bear arms, even while at work. Our friend Peter also supports a citizen's right to keep and bear arms but views this as more of a property-rights issue and takes exception to laws that force employers to accept persons on their property without the consent of the owner.

As we disagree, we decided this would be a great topic for debate and a poll. I hope that you all join in on the fun.

For a point of reference, we will using the employer parking lot bill from last session that had my full support, HB 1037.

This bill applied to all law abiding Texans, and it provided for both the employee and the employer.

For the employee:

(b) A public or private employer may not discharge, discipline, or penalize in any manner an employee because the employee transported or stored a firearm in the employee's locked motor vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle was located on the employer's property.
For the employer:

(g) A public or private employer is not liable in a civil action for damages resulting from an occurrence involving the storage of a firearm in the motor vehicle of an employee.
This is where we will start the conversation. I'll take the point.

Point:

By JR

The Right to Self Defense Does Not Stop at Your Employers Parking Lot

A Texan's right to use force, up to and including deadly force, to defend against violence was solidly affirmed by legislation that was signed into law in the last legislative session.

The law that received the majority of the media attention and therefor is most well known is SB 378, commonly referred to as the Texas Castle Doctrine Law. One of the changes to the Texas Penal Code enacted by SB 378 had to do with determining when deadly force is justified:

Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON.

(a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

(1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to protect the actor against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or

(B) to prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

(b) The actor's belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor's occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor's habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(C) was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);...
The highlights are mine. Note that Texas law equates an individuals vehicle or place of employment with their habitation when it comes to justification for using deadly force.

HB 1815, the Motorist Protection Act, was another quality piece of Texas legislation that became law during the last session. HB 1815 basically, for the law abiding Texan, decriminalized the act of carrying a concealed handgun inside a vehicle.

Texas law recognises an individuals vehicle is an extension of their castle. An officer of the law must have a warrant, probable cause, or permission to search a private vehicle. Texas law also recognises an individuals right to keep and bear arms while in their vehicle. Texas law should protect that same individual from an employer who would attempt to punish an employee for exercising this basic human right.

An employers parking lot is not private property, and does not receive the same protections as private property. Employer parking lots are subject to a library full of State imposed restrictions and regulations that do not apply to private property. An employer parking lot is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Storm-water regulations, EPA regulations, and local zoning ordinances just to name a few of the ways the State regulates employer parking lots. One thing the State does not regulate, and neither should the employer, is the contents of private vehicles parked on these lots.

The employer should have no more say about my having a firearm in my glove compartment as they would a bible.

Counterpoint:

By Peter W. Wickham, Jr.
AKA The Ol' Grey Ghost

These Laws Oppress More Rights Than They Protect

Though these laws appear on their face to be a good idea - telling someone to leave you alone while you exercise one of your Natural and inalienable rights - because they are directed at oppressing other private citizens in the exercise of one of their Natural and inalienable rights these laws do more harm than good and become the avenue through which the government eventually gets around to suppressing all liberty and freedom.

All property not claimed by, stolen by, or abandoned to the care of the government is private property and somebody somewhere has the authority to exercise the privileges and accept the responsibilities of ownership. All Natural rights grow out of the right to own property (your body is the first piece you own) and decide who may trespass upon it. When you are employed by someone, as an aspect of that employment agreement, he allows you access to his property but he can set conditions with which you must comply or you can go work somewhere else. If you take away someone's control over his own property then you have stolen his property from him. Most everyone would agree that if you took a gun and put it to your boss' head and demanded he allow you to carry a firearm on property under his control you will have committed a crime. When you demand that your "Uncle" assist you in this matter by letting your "Uncle" hold the gun, you are still an accessory to the same crime but now your "Uncle" has all the power because he is holding your gun.

These laws also infringe upon people's right to enter into contracts and to expect those contracts to be honored by all parties involved. Employment is a contract between the worker and the employer. They can be explicitly written out, like those for many professional athletes, or they can be simple handshake agreements between individuals. When one party fails to hold up his end of the negotiated bargain then the other party is free from any obligation to hold up his and can seek remuneration as numerated within the body of the contract. If your boss doesn't pay you the wages he promised then you can refuse to work and walk toward your nearest attorney's office. If you don't follow the rules the boss sets out for employees to follow while performing their jobs then he can tell you to walk away. These proposed laws excuse the employee from having to hold up his end of the contract without any compensation for the employer for his having to still hold up his end. Many businessmen just don't ban the possession of firearms on their property for personal political convictions but to prevent losing a large sum of money through a lawsuit and they may even be directed to do so by their insurance carrier. This law would void the contract between the business and the carrier and the business may have to close due to the lack of insurance (banning lawsuits only denies affected parties their right to have their dispute settled in a court of law). Customers may also have negotiated contracts where the business has promised to maintain a gun-free work environment. This law would drive the customers to look for other suppliers of the product or service they formerly purchased from this business and these customers would begin their search outside the jurisdiction of this law.

On September 11, 2001 the pilots of the four hijacked airliners were unarmed and not necessarily because of any law that forbid them from being so. Until just two months before the incident it was perfectly legal for them to have a weapon but it was the company policy of their respective employers that they shouldn't. It wasn't till after that dreadful day that the "usual suspects" in the federal government came up with the ingenious idea of outlawing any pilots from ever carrying a firearm with them so as to prevent hijackings in the future. This was like declawing your cat so that your neighbor's dog wouldn't eat it. Bringing the government into a dispute always has a tendency to muck things up. These laws that will affect the private workplace seem good now but since the government has been inserted into the question then after a shooting incident occurs and is blown out of proportion by self-serving politicians and media-types so as to shift the public mood the government will step in and ban the possession of firearms in all workplaces, including those where the employer had no objections beforehand. Then carrying a firearm on your employer's property will no longer just be grounds for dismissal but will now be a prosecutable offense like for those persons who take weapons unto the premises and grounds of the U.S. Post Office and V.A. Medical Centers (please note that these laws always exempt government agencies from having to comply with them). We might even see a new government agency like the TSA to handle all security in the workplace.

All people have the right to keep and bear arms, at whatever level of technology they can afford, wherever they go on their own property or into the public domain but this right ends at the boundary of another person's property. A property owner, whether the property is rented, leased, or owned outright, can permit or deny access to his property to those which he chooses and he may set conditions that others must comply with to be allowed onto his property. To deny a property owner this right is to steal his property from him. To bring in the government to assist in this endeavor is one of the most dangerous things to do for as Albert Jay Nock has aptly pointed out, what power we give government to do unto others in our name and for our temporary benefit is the same power that the government will use to do unto us when the winds of fortune have changed direction. Laws like these will invariably come back to bite us on our collective posterior. Are your shots up to date?

There you have it, two points of view on this important subject which will be front and center during the next Texas legislative session. Please take the time to answer the following poll and add your comments to the debate. Heck, get your family and friends involved. I would really like to get a strong consensus on how folks feel about the state seeing to it that free citizen's can maintain the means to defend themselves in their private vehicles.


10 comments:

Fits said...

Here in the Gunshine State we fought long and hard for recognition of our rights no matter WHERE we happened to be, and finally won.

Wishing Texas good luck.

alan said...

"A property owner, whether the property is rented, leased, or owned outright, can permit or deny access to his property to those which he chooses and he may set conditions that others must comply with to be allowed onto his property."

This is not true. I can, to a certain extent, permit or deny access to my residence, but even that ability has limits under law (warrants, inspections, apartment management, etc.)

Owners of public building are even further limited in their ability to permit or deny admittance. Civil rights laws prevent discrimination in admittance. ADA requires accommodations for the handicapped. OSHA has extensive rules for workplace safety. None of these laws say anything about private residences.

Clearly there is already a difference in law between a private residence and a public building.

dw said...

if i can't enter the building because i am wearing a gun, can i enter the building because i am not of a specific race. you can't have it both ways.

cbrtxus said...

If an employer requires that an employee be defenseless on the companies parking lot and between home and the parking lot, then the employer should be responsible for providing security for each employee he is rendering defenseless. If he fails to provide that security, then he should expect to be held legally responsible for any harm that the defenseless employee may suffer.

jed said...

Well, I imagine you'll soon discover (not that you didn't already know) just how big a puddle you just stepped in.

Or maybe not.

But my experience is that every time this comes up on a blog, a long and typically fruitless discussion ensues. Been there, done that.

Enjoy!

Khoop said...

Airline Pilots can carry guns. Just last year a USAir captian had an a.d. iin the cockpit..

Anonymous said...

I would suggest it is okay as longer as your employer is something other than a private entity. That is to say if you work for a incorporated company, they give up certain rights in order for the owners not to be held personally libel for thing that the company might be at fault for. If you work for your grandmother, she probably could tell you what to do.

B Woodman said...

This may sound simplistic, but possibly workable. I suggest a return to the Clinton (shudder) - era military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell".

I, as an employee, promise NOT to TELL you that I may or may not have a weapon in my personal-property automobile.

I, as an employer, promise NOT to ASK for an inventory of the contents (including weapons) of your personal-property automobile.

No laws need be passed (thus NOT getting the ever-intrusive government involved in private citizen's affairs).
The only other requirement that I can see is to NOT hold the employer civilly or criminally responsible for any wrongful actions of the employees.

In this case, what you don't know, can't hurt me (works both ways).

The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle in action

B Woodman
SSG (Ret) U S Army

Ride Fast said...

I support both property rights and self defense rights.

The property owner can dictate terms on their property but not while I'm coming and going.

If they won't allow guns on campus, there must be off campus parking or a way to secure the gun on campus.

In other words, I'll respect their property rights if they respect my right to keep and bear arms.

Reese said...

My last two employers have both leased space in a building that was owned by another company. Though my employers had policies prohibiting weapons in the parking lot, they did not own it so the policy was garbage.

In Utah, if a company does not want weapons on their property (in the parking lot) they must publicly displayed a sign to hold any force, and even then its legality is questionable.