It seems hardly a week goes by that one group or another tries to pit one of our rights against another. It’s usually the result of someone claiming an absolute right or misreading the Constitution.
The latest example is one we’ve seen before.
It wasn’t long ago that legislators in Oklahoma passed a law that forced employers to allow employees to store firearms in their locked cars in company parking lots. Employers balked at the law and it’s currently tied up in court.
Without waiting to see how that case turns out and perhaps learn something from it, a state lawmaker in Florida has proposed a similar law in the Sunshine State. According to a report in the Ocala, Fla., Star-Banner, state Rep. Dennis Baxley’s bill is aimed at what he fears is a coming wave of workplace rules that forbid firearms on company property, even if they’re securely locked in vehicles.
The purpose of those laws varies, but generally they’re in place to prevent a disgruntled employee from retrieving a gun from the parking lot and shooting fellow workers. Violating most workplace gun bans can result in the loss of one’s job. Baxley wants to prevent that.
His bill would allow employees to bring firearms to work, provided they keep them locked in their cars. That way, employees would have guns for self-defense on their daily commute. In addition, his bill would protect employers from liability should a workplace shooting occur as a result of the presence of a firearm in an employee’s vehicle on company property.
On its surface, the proposal seems to pass muster. But when you think about it, the proposal seeks to extend the reach of government, yet again, onto private property and into the workplace.
Although we’re supporters of gun rights and the right to self-defense, employers and other property owners have the right to limit behavior on their property. Arguments that the Constitution guarantees one’s right to carry a firearm don’t apply in this case because the Constitution limits the government’s actions, not those of individuals or companies.
Discussions on Internet forums often bring up the argument that if employers prevent firearms on their property, they must assume responsibility for employees’ safety going to and from work. That is, of course, impossible; it involves far too many variables to be practical and would require employers to be responsible for things they can’t possibly control.
The flip side of this situation is that employers shouldn’t be held liable if an employee brings a gun to work and commits violence. To hold them liable would, extending the argument to its most extreme conclusion, require employers to be responsible for all actions of all employees.
In the final analysis, it’s up to the individual to be responsible for his or her own actions and safety. If employees feel the need to carry firearms in their cars for protection and their employers ban guns on company property, they should work with the company to get rid of the ban or allow specific exceptions to the rules. Or they might have the option of parking on public streets, where company policies don’t apply. In the most extreme cases, they can look for employment at a company that doesn’t have such restrictions.
It’s up to the employee to decide what’s best for his particular situation.
In any case, this isn’t something the government should get involved in.