Monday, August 13, 2012

Speaker Harwell on “guns-in-parking-lots”

Business interests and gun rights advocates reached an impasse last session over gun owners leaving their firearms in their cars where property owners prohibit it. House Speaker Beth Harwell told Kiwanians no one group will control the outcome of that issue in 2013.

The gun lobby won a political victory in making an example of Debra Maggart and no doubt some wavering members of the legislature will be more inclined to buckle under the threat of being next on the gun lobby hit list. We can be assured this bill will come back up in the next legislative session.

No matter how many times they say it, this is not a Second Amendment issue. The Second Amendment is a restriction on government, not private property owners. The Second Amendment no more gives you the right to carry a gun on to the property of another than does the First Amendment mandate that a newspaper must print your letter to the editor.

Nevertheless, it may be within the purview of government to mandate that your employer cannot prohibit you from carrying a gun onto the parking lot of your employer and leaving it in your locked car. None of our rights are absolute. We already accept many restrictions on private property owners. An example is that a business may not refuse to serve someone because of race. We long ago accepted this. In your restaurant, you cannot serve whites only. We also accept zoning restrictions and codes restrictions and property taxes.

What I do not understand, is how this issue ever became an issue. If you carry a gun onto your employers property and don't tell anyone, how will the employer ever know?  I doubt any employer is going to go to the expense of having inspectors search every car that pulls into his parking lot to determine if there is gun in the car.

Does your employer now have the right to search your car? I don't know. Could your employer prohibit you from bringing certain reading material on to his property and leaving it in your locked car?  I don't know. If someone can explain this controversy in more detail, I would welcome the explanation. Maybe the legislature can mandate some version of don't-ask-don't-tell as it relates to carrying a gun onto the parking lot of one's employer.

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