Friday, November 23, 2012

Thinking about the guns in trunks issue again

GOP Leaders Seek To Avoid Repeat Of Gun Law Fight
Leaders in the Tennessee Statehouse are hoping for what they call a reasonable solution to a legislative fight over a bill seeking to guarantee employees the ability to store firearms in cars parked at work. more

GOP leaders seek to avoid repeat of gun law fight  

...Frank Niceley, a Strawberry Plains Republican who moved from the House to the Senate in this month’s elections. Niceley said he’s hesitant to go along with Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s call to quickly pass a compromise on the gun bill and move on to other issues.

“If we allow them to come in here and pass a bill right off the bat, we’re telling the other lobbyists the way to get things done is through fear and intimidation,” he said.

 Niceley said he would allow employees to store weapons in their cars if he owned a factory, but that such decisions should be left to each business.

“If a property owner tells someone you can’t bring a yo-yo on your property —much less a gun — you can’t bring it on that property,” he said.  

My Commentary

I agree with Nicely.

After the defeat of Debra Maggart at the hands of the NRA, the gun lobby has shown that no one is safe if they dare cross them. Still, the legislature should not buckle to the radical fringe on a matter of principle . At some point in the past, the NRA stood for the constitutional right to bear arms. No more. Now, they want gun owners to have rights that are not protected by the constitution. Now, they want to impose their will on others and trample the property rights of others.

The NRA is not a pro-second amendment lobby anymore; they are a gun rights lobby. There is a difference. The second amendment protects our right to bear arms from government infringement. The second amendment is a protection against government, not your neighbor who does not want guns on his property. To argue that the right to carry a gun onto your employer's property is a second amendment issue is equivalent to arguing that to compel the Tennessean to publish your letter to the editor is a first amendment issue.

Nevertheless,  It seems that there should be some way around this issue, without trampling private property rights and extending gun rights beyond those protected by the constitution. I would like to see what Ramsey's compromise looks like. If your gun is concealed in the trunk of your car, how would an employer ever know? They are not going to do a detailed search of every car entering their parking lot. It is impractical.

Does one's employer have the right to search an employee's private vehicle when it is driven onto his parking lot. As a condition of employment, if one gives his employer the right to search his car such as by initialing a policy statement, then the employer may have the right to search an employee's car.  Otherwise it is questionable. The website Findlaw says, "If it's your personal car, then probably not. If your employer believes that you have dangerous or illegal materials in your car, they should call the police rather than searching the car themselves."

If an employer has that right, should he?  Should he be permitted to force you to give up an expectation of privacy as a condition of employment? I do recognize that rights may at times be in conflict and few rights are absolute.  I do not think that an employer should be allowed to force you to surrender all of your rights as a condition's of employment. I object to a policy that says you can be subject to random drug test by your employer. Maybe for school bus drivers or airline pilots or some professions engaged in dangerous work, that may be reasonable, but not for most people. Yet, many employers, as a condition of employment, have employees agree to a policy that says they are subject to random drug test. That seems more of an invasion of my privacy than a search of my vehicle.

Rather than expanding the right of gun owners to carry a gun onto the property of another, maybe we need to examine what expectation of privacy an employee should have. What right does an employer have to determine if you are or are not storing a gun in your car?  Could an employer not maintain the right to prohibit guns on his property, yet have some sort of don't ask-don't tell policy about who has a gun in his car.  And should not an employee have a reasonable expectation that his car is not subject to search by his employer? 

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