Parking lot gun laws put employers and employees on opposing sides

| July 8, 2013

Over 20 states have enacted ‘parking lot gun laws,’ allowing employees to bring guns to work (provided the weapons are securely locked in vehicles in the company’s parking lot). Unhappy companies fear that such a law puts everyone at risk and increases their liability. While this feeling resonates with some employees, many others see the new gun law as a step in the right direction.

No Weapons Sign

Parking lot gun laws allow company employees to bring their guns to work as long as they leave them in the car. From MySecuritySign.com

Gun owner advocates’ argument

Gun owner advocates argue that employees who commute long distances need to have guns in their cars in order to protect themselves. Another argument is that a ban that extends to a company parking lot violates an employee’s Second Amendment rights.

Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey of Nashville, Tennessee says, “Gun-carry permit holders with their impeccable track record need to have their guns in their car wherever they go. It’s proven that’s a detriment to crime.”

Republican Senator Mark Green of Clarksville, Tennessee had similar views: “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.

Employers’ argument

Business owners counter that parking lot gun laws are a violation of private property rights, including the employer’s ability to determine the company property’s use. In addition, these laws force company owners to run the risk of liability if guns kill or injure employees.

Gun Control Protester

A gun control protester. From Elvert Barnes.

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Maury Donahue, a FedEx spokesperson in Memphis, Tennessee said, “We believe that a property owner’s right to provide a safe work environment trumps an individual’s right to possess a firearm on the owner’s property.”

Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Bill Ozier pointed out, “This is an important issue, particularly to a lot of our foreign-owned companies. They’re not used to the gun culture that we have in the United States, and [for] some of those, whether they’re Japanese, German or whatever country they’re from, this is a big issue to them.”

Reid Albert, security- in- charge for Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee commented, “Gun violence in the workplace is a real and ever present threat. A law which prevents an employer from addressing this situation hinders my ability to protect the lives of all employees at Volkswagen, Chattanooga.”

According to a National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) report, there were 458 workplace homicides in 2011. Of these, 358 were linked to guns. Corwin Taper, a Tennessee resident, said, “You’re asking for trouble when you take guns into the workforce. What if someone gets fired? The first thing they are going to do is go get that gun.”

States’ reactions to the law

In some states, such as California, company owners can ban weapons from offices, including parking lots. However, some employers hesitate to do this, fearing backlash from groups that boycott businesses that ban guns. Alabama legislators have given businesses immunity for workplace shootings. In Tennessee, the parking lot gun law only applies to 370,000 handgun permit holders who have undergone criminal background checks and a one-day course on gun use.

Allowing guns at work calls for tougher workplace violence prevention policies and stricter surveillance by the employers. Without such measures, parking lot gun laws could wind up trumping workplace bullying policies in situations in which bullied workers decide to use guns as equalizers.

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Category: Guns

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