Friday, March 13, 2009

The Texas Employer Parking Lot Bills...

...need our support.

SB730 and HB1301 are the two bills that relate "to an employee's transportation and storage of certain firearms or ammunition while on certain property owned or controlled by the employee's employer." The petrochemical industry is leading the charge against these bills and has dedicated a ton of money to hire lobbyist and keep them busy opposing these bills throughout the legislative session.

It is very important that our voice is also heard by our legislators. Here is a copy of a fax that I sent to my representatives in Austin:

I am writing today to ask for your support of HB 1301, a bill relating to an employee's transportation and storage of certain firearms or ammunition while on certain property owned or controlled by the employee's employer. This bill is commonly referred to as the "Employer Parking Lot Bill".

A Texans 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 therefore is most well known is SB 378, commonly referred to as the Texas Castle Doctrine Law.

The Castle Doctrine states that a person is justified in using deadly force against another if that person believed that the deadly force was immediately necessary and the bad guy had:

"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..."

The Castle Doctrine extended our natural right to defend ourselves to our "vehicle, or place of business or employment".

Another outstanding piece of legislation that became law during the last legislative session was HB 1815, the Motorist Protection Act.

HB 1815 basically, for the law abiding Texan, decriminalized the act of carrying a concealed handgun inside a vehicle.

Texas law recognizes an individual’s 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 recognizes an individual’s 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 employer’s 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.

Thank you for your support of HB 1301

Representative Diane Patrick supported both the Castle Doctrine and Motorist Protection Acts during the last legislative session. In the email I sent out accompanying the FAX I added a couple sentences thanking her for that support.

Here is Representative Patrick's reply:

Dear Mr. R:

As your state representative, I appreciate your taking the time to contact my office and voice your concern and support regarding HB 1301 related to an employee's transportation and storage of firearms while on property controlled by an employer.

I appreciate your input and the information you provided on this subject. I will continue to monitor this issue as session progresses. Please feel free to contact me or my office with additional questions or concerns.


Diane Patrick, Ph.D.

Arlington, Pantego, Dalworthington Gardens
This non-committal answer proves the point that we have a lot of work ahead of us if we want this legislation to pass.

Senator Wendy Davis has yet to respond.

A few talking points that you can mention when you write and call your Texas State Representative (thanks Charles)
SB 730/HB1301 do not prevent an employer from keeping guns out of the workplace; it only applies to locked cars in the parking lot;

SB 730/HB1301 provide employers immunity from civil liability for any injury or damage that may result from storage of firearms in locked vehicles, unless the employer is grossly negligent.

SB 730/HB1301 allow employers to prohibit firearms in a parking area, if the parking lot is not accessible to the general public and the employer provides alternative parking for employees. Or the employer can opt to provide a place to lock up an unloaded firearm. This provision is especially useful to the petrochemical industry and any other business needing to protect sensitive areas.

SB 730/HB1301 would not apply to company-owned vehicles, nor would it allow storage of firearms in vehicles parked on property where the possession of firearms is prohibited under state or federal law.
I know this was a long post. If you made it this far, thanks.


Anonymous said...

Y'know JR, I was getting those exact same template responses from my State Rep. I made comment to that effect -- that it told me nothing about the Rep's actual stance on things -- and to my pleasant surprise my Rep gave me a customized response:

I'm not in agreement with her response, but I'm happy I got a proper response.

So, maybe give that a shot. Instead of writing them a long letter, just give a quick email saying "I want you to support/deny HR xxxx. Instead of sending me the boilerplate reply, please let me know exactly how you stand regarding guns and property rights so I can know how you will vote on this matter should the bill make it to the floor for a vote." Just make it short and sweet and ask the direct question. Can't hurt to try.

Tim Covington said...

John Carona just sent me a letter letting me know that he is supporting the bill.

Old NFO said...

JR- thanks for fighting the good fight! I'm coming back that way when I retire in a couple of years, and I really appreciate what y'all are doing for our rights!

W W Woodward said...

I just e-mailed Rep. Hardcastle as well as Senator Duncan.

I appropriated most of your letter that you sent to your reps, with a few changes.


Teke said...

I am curious. Does anyone know what affect this may have on places like reliant park where they have a 30.06 sign posted at the entrance to the parking lot? Not necessarily for employees but for visitors?