Guns at work bill advances in Florida

While I sympathesize with the goal, I have problems with laws that force firms to let their employees have guns at work. I think that firms have it wrong in that the people that they should fear are the people who are going to break the rules, not the ones who obey them. That the regulations leave victims defenseless and encourage attacks, creating safe zones for criminals, not victims. That said, I think that the best approach is to make it so that victims can clearly sue for damages if they are prevented from protected themselves and something bad should happen. My guess is that firms face a strong asymmetry. If something bad happens, they face lawsuits only from victims for the gun being there. Firms don't face lawsuits from guns not being available for people to defend themselves or others.

After six tries, the National Rifle Association has managed to get a committee in the Florida Legislature to endorse one of the worst bills filed in the current session.

In its original form, the bill would have charged business owners with a felony -- punishable by up to five years in prison -- if they prevented employees from storing guns in their cars while at work. . . .

In a "compromise" move, the NRA and its legislative stooges have revised the language to remove the felony charge and -- in theory, at least -- preserve the private-property rights of businesses. The bill now allows bans when "reasonably necessary."

The changes were apparently enough to satisfy the House Judiciary Committee, which approved the bill --despite the fact that "reasonably necessary" isn't defined.

"Nobody on the committee could even define what it means," Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce said. "So how can an employer?" . . .


Anonymous John Zumrick said...

Perhaps the end sought by this bill to allow one to carry a gun in ones car would best have been approached with a privacy bill. A law making it illegal for an employer to search a workers car, or to include the right to search a car as a condition of employment would stand a better chance of approval. This would shift the depate from 2nd Amendment rights versus property rights to one of personal privacy versus property rights. This would probably resonate with the public better. The same end would be accomplished though indirectly.

4/10/2006 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit I misunderstood this proposed legislation the first time I hear about it.

I thought that the NRA-backed bill was trying to force employers to accept workers *carrying* guns (concealed or otherwise) into the workplace - which would have been a disgraceful violation of employers' property rights. I now understand this not to be the case.

The crux of the reasoning behind the bill is one of privacy, private property and constitutional protection from unwarranted search.

I think the argument is that the vehicle is an employees private property, and the presence of a firearm within that vehicle is beyond the regulation of the employer.

I see the reasoning here, but do not agree that this trumps the right of an employer to state "no guns in vehicles or on company property".

Any private property owner can forbid me to carry a gun on their property, the fact that my pockets are my private property and cannot be searched by them is immaterial.

If a private property owner does not wish firearms to be present, regardless of conveyance, then we must respect their rights...even though we disagree with their reasoning.

The subsquent potential lawsuit issue is interesting...is it possible that such an entity could be held liable if they bar lawfully-carried arms and a criminal act ensues? Many universities and colleges would have to take note...

4/10/2006 2:20 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

I guess that I don't view this as a privacy issue. People don't have a right to a job and the employer doesn't have to keep you. While I think that it is stupid, employers should have the right to say you can only work at a job if you don't smoke at all. If you don't like the restrictions, go work someplace else. The point is the same for storing a gun in your car in the parking lot. If you don't like employers checking your keystrokes on your computer, work someplace else. Similarlly, I think that bars can determine if their patrons smoke or not. It is not any of the government's business.

The concern that I have is that the legal system imposes penalties on only one side of the issue and forces firms to make a mistake (banning guns from people's cars).

Allowing guns in people's cars will not only help make the workplace safer, it will also make other places safer also because allowing the guns in the cars will make it more likely that the employee will carry the gun other places.

4/10/2006 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you, John...it may be a stupid decision (on the part of the employer), but it should be entirely their right to make it.

Of course, now we'll all have to be extra careful to find a copy of a company's T&Cs _before_ accepting a job.

4/11/2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger Bike Bubba said...

I really like the idea of allowing victims to sue companies that forbade self-defense to them--actually sent a note to "Gun Owners of America" when such a tragedy occurred in a aerospace plant in Mississippi.

I also understand your point about parking lots, but on the other hand, if a company could ban weapons in cars in parking lots, they'd effectively be disarming people everywhere except for at home.

Would that then expose the company to the possibility of being sued by an employee who wasn't able to defend himself while not even on their property? Interesting thought.

4/17/2006 1:36 PM  

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