Georgia Senate Bill 43 is a bill designed to protect employees from being fired for keeping a firearm in their own locked car while at work, even if that car is in an unsecured company lot. I think the bill should go further, but it’s certainly a good first step and deserves to pass. It passed the House (HB 143) and passed its Senate committee, but Lt Gov. Casey Cagle admits to blocking it (Gwinnett Daily Post) from a full Senate vote.
The problem, as he sees it, is property rights–specifically the right of a parking lot owner to control what items people have locked in their cars while parked on the lot. I’m a big supporter of property rights, too, but no rights exist in a vacuum and sometimes different rights conflict. The NRA is accused of “bullying” lawmakers by making us aware of the bill and suggesting we contact our legislators. Here’s what I wrote to Lt. Gov. Cagle:
As a Georgia business owner and property rights supporter, I understand
your reluctance to support SB 43, however I must implore you to reconsider
your opposition. Property rights are important, but they’re not the only
important right. SB 43 strikes a balance by preserving the basic human
right of individual law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, even on the
way to and from work, while only mildly affecting property rights of
employers, by allowing the guns locked in the private vehicles of their
employees while merely parked on an unsecured company lot. It also
provides important liability protection for employers like us who do
recognize our employees innate right to defend themselves against
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce does not speak for all Georgia businesses,
and they certainly don’t speak for us. They have also misled their members
into thinking this bill is about employees walking around with guns on
their hips. The NRA is not bullying lawmakers, they’re alerting citizens
to important issues that matter to us.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has been working to block the passage of the bill. UPS and Wal-Mart have also been working to defeat the bill. I’ve written to all three of them, and encourage you to do the same. (I’m sure those of you who don’t like Wal-Mart are pleased I’m against them on something!) I also wrote to my GA Senator, Vincent Fort, an infamous anti-gun guy, for all the good it will do. He’s in such a safe district, the Republicans don’t even bother to run anyone against him.
According to the above Gwinnett Daily Post article, it may not be too late. Normally, it wouldn’t be considered until next January, but the article says it “is the most high-profile prospect for resurrection.”
If not, we’ll take it up again next year and maybe get an even better bill. Oklahoma, I’m told, has this language:
(a) No property owner, tenant, employer, business entity, county, municipal corporation, state created authority, agency, department, or public corporation shall be permitted to establish any policy or rule that has the effect of prohibiting any person, except those enumerated as ineligible for a license under Code Section 16-11-129, from transporting and storing firearms and weapons in a locked vehicle on any property set aside for any vehicle.
Click here for info on the Oklahoma incident and court case that led to these bills.
UPDATE: HB 89, which contains a partial parking lot provision, has been signed into law and takes effect July 1, 2008.