The Tennessee legislature is working on a bill (Senate Bill 3002/House Bill 3560) to prevent businesses and employers from banning lawfully possessed firearms in the cars parked in their parking lot(s). According to a story on timesnews.net: “[Governor] Haslam told reporters Wednesday that he’s trying to work out a compromise between gun rights supporters and business groups. ‘A lot of government is like that, it’s about getting the balance right,’ he said after a speech to the Tennessee Hospital Association. ‘This is one of those cases where you have property interests versus gun rights interests — both of which people in my party take very, very seriously.'” He ain’t lyin’ . . .
I have seen this same arguments in numerous other states where similar bills have been debated or passed, and it has pissed me off no end each time. But there are two aspects that really get under my skin. First is the notion that there is some sort of trade-off (or “balance” as Gov. Haslam says) between gun owners and property owners rights.
As some of my readers may already know, I am a very strong supporter of the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right (subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility) to own and carry the weapon of your choice. I have equally strong opinions about property rights which is why this red herring, either-or argument is so frustrating.
If I own a business (or the bank owns it and I just run it for them) it should be my business to run or ruin as I see fit. If I am stupid enough to prohibit firearms on the premises then I expect my employees and customers to abide by that policy. In return, however, I respect their right to do as they see fit with their property. I won’t try to tell them what color they must paint their house or how they may furnish it.
Likewise I won’t try to tell them what kind of car they must drive or what they may keep inside their car. As long as it is secured in the vehicle and out of sight (as required by the TN law) they can have Bibles or Baby Eagles, Korans or Kel-Tecs, swastikas or Sigs, Penthouses or Para-Ordnances – I don’t get to have a say in the matter.
The next bleat usually heard about guns in parking lots is usually something along the lines of but what about liability? The Tennessee law, however, explicitly states:
No business entity, or owner, manager, or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer shall be held liable in any civil action for damages, injuries, or death resulting from or arising out of another person’s actions involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored pursuant to subsection (b)
Several other states have similar language limiting liability. In fact under Wisconsin’s new concealed carry law, employers that allow permit holders to carry at work are immune from liability in lawsuits arising from their policy. Amusingly enough, there is a ringing silence on the matter of liability for employers who prohibit lawful carry.
So that’s my first objection to the false dichotomy of property vs. gun rights. My second objection is to the utter hypocrisy of the vast majority of the property-rights-are-sacred bleaters. Mother Jones writer Emily Loftis provides a near perfect example. In her article Every Day’s Take Your Gun To Work Day In Indiana she states:
Despite the Hoosier affinity for small government in matters of property rights and business regulation, Parking Lot 2.0 would allow employees or job applicants to file a civil action case against business owners who demand to know what weapons are being stored on their property.
State Senator Tim Lanane sounded frustrated when I called him up. He clarified that he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but believes this bill goes too far. “This crosses over Second Amendment rights and intrudes into private property owners’ rights, a business owner’s rights.”
Then we look at her bio which states in part:
Emily Loftis … earned an MA in Journalism at Indiana University while covering state health care, the auto industry, and minority issues for southern and central Indiana’s National Public Radio station.
We can assume that her work on minority issues for NPR did not include support for segregated lunch counters or businesses sporting “No Negroes” signs, yet when it comes to a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and enumerated Constitutional right, all of a sudden the rights of businessmen and property owners are paramount? Puh-leeze.
If you’re going to wrap yourself in the mantle of sacred property and business rights, don’t stop with guns in parking lots, have the integrity to advocate for a repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 too, okay?