published Monday, July 16th, 2012

Property rights trump all

Both sides in the combustible "guns-in-parking-lots" debate in Tennessee are right.

Both are also wrong.

A bill that cleared most committees in the Tennessee General Assembly but never came up for full House and Senate votes this year would prevent companies from barring workers or others who have handgun-carry permits from storing firearms in locked vehicles parked on company property. The guns would have to be stored out of sight.

Here is where most opponents of the measure are wrong: They seem to believe that the bill, if passed, would spawn some sort of Wild West bloodbath and compromise the safety of workers and others at businesses around the state.

The evidence indicates otherwise.

Well over 300,000 Tennesseans possess permits that let them carry handguns. That means they have passed criminal background checks and completed a handgun safety course. And however much it pains the anti-Second Amendment crowd to admit it, those Tennesseans are remarkably unlikely to engage in unjustified violence with their guns.

When the D.C.-based Violence Policy Center analyzed data on first- and second-degree murders committed over a three-year period by Tennesseans who are licensed to carry handguns, it could come up with only six such slayings. That represented only 0.002 percent of the vast number of residents of the state who have handgun-carry permits.

So the debate on the guns-in-parking-lots bill would be a lot more productive if opponents could get past their frequent insinuations that people with such permits are apt to generate lots of violence. They aren't.

All that said, however, the legislation in question is misguided for one clear reason: It would violate property rights.

For reasons detailed above, there is no particular wisdom in companies or other private organizations barring law-abiding employees, customers or others from having properly permitted guns locked in their cars and out of sight.

But that is a call that the property owner is entitled to make, and that is where supporters of the law miss the boat. For comparison, should you, on the property where your home is located, not have the right to forbid a visitor to have a gun -- just as you have a right to forbid him to smoke or do any number of other things to which you may object? The guest can abide by your rules on your property, or he can exercise his right not to visit.

The same is true for employees at companies that forbid guns in vehicles on their parking lots. Workers who object are not obliged to work for those companies and have the right to seek employment elsewhere.

It would be perfectly sensible for businesses to allow employees to have concealed guns in their locked vehicles on company property. But sensible or not, it should remain the businesses' decision.

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Trying to serve two masters at once...

July 16, 2012 at 2:42 a.m.
EaTn said...

I love it...the right-wing legislation caught in a squeeze between their two fat bankrolls. It's a lose-lose situation, and I'm getting a bag of popcorn to sit and watch this disaster play out.

July 16, 2012 at 6:17 a.m.
conservative said...

The one who has a carry permit is not always going to leave his gun at home drive to work and then drive home to get his gun before he goes to Walmart, gets gas, or whatever, because it is just not practical. He often does these things going to or from work.

Either way it doesn't matter for who will know if an employee has a gun in his car unless he announces it and who is going to prosecute him if he has to defend himself or someone else?

July 16, 2012 at 7:51 a.m.
EaTn said... you are advocating breaking the law? Wow, thought permit carrying conservatives were law abiding citizens.

July 16, 2012 at 8:11 a.m.
conservative said...

No, just stating the reality of what is happening now.

July 16, 2012 at 8:27 a.m.
LibDem said...

My guess is the guns are already there and out of sight. The legislation may be moot. (And I agree you don't want to be around Walmart shoppers without a weapon.)

July 16, 2012 at 8:43 a.m.
Leaf said...

While I agree with the conclusions of the article, there is a mistaken assumption here. The law the NRA is pushing for is for everyone - not just those with concealed carry permits - to be allowed to bring guns to work in their cars.

July 16, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.
EaTn said...

I just talked to my right-wing state representative about this issue and while I personally don't like him, he pointed out that this is probably a non-issue since most employers don't search vehicles anyway.. However, if what Leaf says is correct about non-permit holders being included in the push, then the question then is are they violating the law on their way to work?

July 16, 2012 at 11:23 a.m.

Indeed, the issue isn't that they're going to search cars. Why would they bother?

But if somebody becomes a hassle, perhaps threatens to use the gun, then they'll use it as a cause to act.

Personally I don't believe you should leave a gun somewhere that's not secure, and if you don't feel safe without your gun, it's clearly not secure.

Wal-Mart, however, I've never understood why people would want a gun there. The people being hurt by Wal-Mart are in factories, some in the US, some in China. They're probably the ones making those guns...

July 16, 2012 at 7:40 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

A - if you have an employer that would even consider that they have the right to search your vehicle, you might want to consider a different employer.

B - if that employer would consider depriving an employee of the right to defend themselves you should definitely leave.

C - IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE ANY PROPERTY "RIGHTS ", as long as as the government can charge out you property taxes taxes and and confiscate your property exempt for non-payment of said taxes, you are really only renting your "property "as from the government

July 16, 2012 at 10:27 p.m.
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