• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Property rites

Mitch Daniels has been a business-friendly governor, so maybe he'll veto this when it gets to his desk:

Hoosiers who want to keep guns in their cars while they're at work gained more support Tuesday in the General Assembly.

The state House of Representatives voted 76-21 to approve a bill that would make it illegal for employers in Indiana to prohibit workers from keeping firearms in their locked vehicles on company property.

The bill written by Rep. Robert Bischoff, D-Lawrenceburg, would protect employers from liability if there is a workplace shooting when they are in compliance with the law. It would also repeal a provision that allows local governments to adopt ordinances that restrict lawful possession of firearms during disasters and emergencies.

The Senate approved a bill Monday that would allow workers to keep firearms in their vehicles. It will now consider Bischoff's more-comprehensive proposal.

This is really a property rights issue more than it is a Second Amendment issue. My right to be armed does not entitle me to take a weapon onto someone else's private property against the owner's wishes, whether that property is a church or a restaurant or my place of employment. Now, allowing a gun to be kept in a locked car in the company parking lot seems pretty reasonable to me, and I would hope that most employers would see the reasonableness of it. But they aren't required to be reasonable by my definition, or the government's, either.

Let the government get away with this, and the next thing you know they'll be telling businesses they can't allow smoking on their property. Heck, they might even decide they can take your property for economic development purposes. Then where would we be?


Phil Marx
Wed, 01/27/2010 - 5:11pm

Do you think it would be fair for my employer to require me to pray with him at work? Do you think it would be fair for my employer to disallow me form praying at work? The Constitution protects religious freedom, and that is why employees are not allowed to be coerced in such a manner by their emploers. A person should not have to choose between keeping their religion and keeping their job.

Now, transfer that same logic to the gun issue. Imagine you live in a neighborhood where carrying a gun is necessary for ones own personal protection, a neighborhood like the one you mentioned on another recent post. Imagine that you live in a neighborhood, like mine, where it is necessary to carry a weapon on your person whenever you leave the house. If my employer tells me that I can not keep a gun locked in my car, then they are effectively forcing me to either give up my gun or to give up my job.

For several years, I willingly violated the policies of my former employer. I did this only because of the necessity of keeping both my job and my gun at the time. Practically speaking, it was never an issue for me though. This was because I was prudent enough to never display or even discuss the fact that I had a gun in my car with my co-workers. But if my employer had found out about this through other means, I would have been fired, and I don't think that's fair.

Larry Morris
Thu, 01/28/2010 - 4:52pm

Phil, I completely agree. You would think we would have that figured out down here in Texas, but we have not yet passed the bill that forces employers to allow you to keep a weapon locked in your car while you are at work. And, it's for the very reason you state that it is something that's needed down here too - I now work at home and it's not an issue, but when I was going into the office in Houston, my employer had a policy that stated I could not keep a gun locked in my car. Because of that they were limiting my ability to travel with it back and forth to and from work, ...

Larry Morris
Thu, 01/28/2010 - 6:58pm

By the way, Leo, I'm not asking that the company allow me to carry my weapon into their offices, I'm just asking that they not restrict me in my exercising my rights as they exist in Texas to carry a handgun. We have a very clear distinction in the laws in Texas as to what constitutes "premises", they lately made it clearer in the law about not carrying a gun "on the premises" of a school - that only covers the buildings, not the parking lots or sidewalks - otherwise you'd never be able to drop off or pick up your kids while carrying a weapon. They just need to work on parking garages, ...

Leo Morris
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 9:55am

I continue to want to make a distinction between what might be "unfair" for a company to do and what we should ask the legislature to MAKE a company do. Most companies seek to forbid you from exercising your rights in a way that disrupts (in their view) the companies' operations. They can't keep you from praying silently at your desk, but they will ask you to stop going from desk to desk and praying aloud while everybody is trying to work. I remember during the first Gulf War, the newspaper across the hall prohibited its employees from wearing yellow ribbons at work in support of their friends or family serving overseas, because that would be seen as "taking sides" and make readers doubt their objectivity. I made fun of them mercilessly for denying their own employees the very freedom of speech they fought for routinely as part of their journalistic mission. But I wouldn't suggest it's a constitutional issue and that the legislature should have required them to leave their employees' ribbons alone. The companies believe, rightly or wrongly (wrongly, I'd say) that letting employees have their guns in their locked cars would disrupt their businesses. It's a safety issue to them.

It's an interesting (and valid) point, though, that forbidding guns even in that locked car in the parking lot keeps people from exercising their rights AWAY from work in a way that other company rules don't. If the company won't let me pass out my Nuke the Whales pamphlets at work (even in the parking lot), that doesn't prevent me from handing them out anyplace else. But if I can't have my gun in my locked car, I am also prevented from having it in my car to and from work, which I am able to do legally.

FWIW, I think Phil's approach (just have the gun in the locked car and don't say anything to anybody, be prepared for the consequences if found out) is a reasonable response to unreasonable demands.