Pennsylvania Legislators Want to Make Gun Owners a Protected Class

Is it proper for employers to discriminate against workers that are exercising a human right explicitly protected under the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions? What if that right happened to be the right to keep and bear arms? Two dozen Republicans and one Democrat who are worried about this issue introduced a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature earlier this year that would bar discrimination against employees in the Quaker State who legally carry a firearm.

House Bill 38 would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, to include “exercise of self defense rights” alongside other classes protected from employment discrimination by the law: race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, non-job related handicap or disability, or the use of a guide or support animal due to a disability.

Representative Rick Saccone, the bill’s primary sponsor, has posted several videos on YouTube talking about discrimination against gun owners. In a recent edition, he expresses concern about public housing bans related to firearms possession.

Another video posted in 2015 (apparently about an earlier incarnation of this bill) talks at length about other problems that gun owners face — such as the possibility of termination for having a firearm locked in the trunk of a car in a parking lot on company property.

Certainly, carrying in the workplace is an issue fraught with peril for gun owners. Many — particularly those who work for large corporations — are faced with the choice of either leaving the gun at home, and risk not having it when needing it, leaving in the car, and risk it being stolen (or, again, not having it when needed if the crisis happens inside the workplace,) or simply carrying anyway and risk being fired if the gun is noticed.

A statutory remedy for this is hardly a perfect solution, as there is the question of property rights (or, more correctly, whatever’s left of them). The current situation, however, is best described as “imperfect” as it is.

Needless to say, the very thought of this bill has caused a certain segment of the commentariat to flip out.

Shira Goodman, a gun control lobbyist, called the bill “mind-boggling” in an interview with Tabatha Fleming in the Penn Record.

“The Second Amendment right is not overly burdened here, and so why (gun carriers) need to be in a protected class is just a little bit mind-boggling,” Goodman told the Pennsylvania Record. “It’s very easy to get a gun here. We’re an open-carry state, except for Philadelphia. It’s not very hard to get a concealed carry license. We don’t have waiting periods. We don’t have registration and license.”

Of course, open carry is legal in the city of Philadelphia, but why should a lobbyist on the subject know that?

In response to Ms. Goodman, Brietbart’s AWR Hawkins dryly notes:

She did not address the fact that businesses, elementary schools, and universities around the country have witnessed horrendous attacks wherein the law-abiding citizens were sitting ducks; rendered defenseless by anti-gun employers and/or school administrators or boards of regents.

Does this bill have a shot at being enacted? Probably not. Even if it passed the legislature, it would still need the approval of Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, who would likely veto it. As one particularly breathless commentator noted, Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act does not provide coverage for lesbians or gays, either, and that makes it even harder for a Democrat Governor to sign on, I’d imagine.

Of more interest, though, is the fact that Representative Saccone announced in February that he would be a candidate for the Pennsylvania seat in the U.S. Senate currently held by Bob Casey, an erstwhile ally of gun owners who did a volte-face in 2013 after Sandy Hook. So this may be more of a way for Mr. Saccone to burnish his credentials as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Making the gun controllers howl is probably just a side benefit for him.

Barrister’s note: The Penn Record, and several other sources state that the bill amends the “Pennsylvania Human Rights Act,” but the bill itself references the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and, despite a few mentions in news stories and even a few court pleadings that can be found online, there doesn’t seem to be a “Pennsylvania Human Rights Act.” If you’re an employment law type in the Commonwealth and know better, though, please hit the comments below.

 

comments

  1. avatar Oliver says:

    Oh come on. It is well within the rights of employers and shop owners to deny you service if you are black or Jewish so why should gun owners be any different just because of civil rights. Oh wait, you mean they can’t deny you service or ask that you take the kippeh off? Never mind.

    1. avatar Omer Baker says:

      It should be a right to deny service to whom ever anyone wants, the right of free association is fundamental and to deny it is akin to thought crime. That being said, other persons who are in the market for such services may take offense to the denial of services for certain reasons and show their unhappiness by not doing business with the formerly mentioned proprietor. And before someone says anything about segregation, segregation was forced by the government(s) in those areas, if those laws were to have been revoked, the known results would be about the same as The Nazis not coming to power, a mere thought exercise.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Omer Baker,

        There is no good answer to this.

        If we allow “free association” without any bounds, then your local electricity provider is free to specify that they will only sell electricity to people who can prove that they voted for all Democrat candidates in the last election.

        On the other hand, if government forces people to provide services without any discrimination, then you have gay couples requiring devout Christian bakers to bake wedding cakes for gay unions … which is a ginormous wrong if you are a devout Christian.

        And before anyone says that it is okay for the local electric utility to discriminate because someone is free to live without electricity or to provide their own electricity: this totally screws apartment, brownstone, and condominium dwellers who have no option to install solar panels or a wind generator … or a wood stove for heat.

        1. avatar Roymond says:

          A devout Christian should have no problem baking a cake for a gay union, any more than baking a cake for the start of a business: both a gay union and the start of a business are purely civil contracts.

          Only if the person requesting the cake asked for the words “Holy Matrimony” to be out on it should there be any problem, because then it is out of the realm of Caesar (secular law) and into the realm of God.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Roymond,

          I specifically chose the word “union” because marriage cannot possibly apply between two people of the same sex. Nevertheless, that is exactly what a gay couple would call it and a devout Christian cannot support/further homosexual behavior in any way.

          Now, if a homosexual simply wanted a devout Christian to bake a birthday cake, that is something that a devout Christian could do in good conscience since they would not be supporting/furthering homosexual behavior.

          At any rate, this highlights exactly what I said: that there is no good answer.

        3. avatar Mad Max says:

          I would suggest that sole proprietors and closely-held corporations have the Constitutional right to deny service to anyone (the Bill of Rights should take precedent over public accommodation laws via the 1st and 14th Amendments).

          On the other hand, the Government and publicly-traded companies should not be permitted to discriminate in any way.

  2. avatar G says:

    I live just outside of philadelphia and open carry IS NOT legal there.

    1. avatar stateisevil says:

      Incorrect.

      1. avatar G says:

        I stand corrected. Apparently you need a concealed carry license to legally do it however.

        1. avatar Mike Betts says:

          Am I following this correctly? Am I to understand that you can carry openly in Philadelphia but in order to do so legally you must have a CONCEALED CARRY permit?

          Mr. Kafka, your phone is ringing.

        2. avatar Anon says:

          In the Commonwealth, it’s a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF), and self-defense is only one of the options on the application

        3. avatar Bob says:

          The license is to carry firearms, that license is needed to carry concealed on or about ones person.
          The law states you must have a firearms license to carry in a city of the first class, Philadelphia is the only city in Pennsylvania that has a population density enough to be considered a first class city.
          Pittsburgh for example, is too spread out and therefore not a first class city.

          So, its not what the license grants you, its what the law says you can do if you have a license.

          FYI, it works pretty well here, regardless what some outsiders may say, this state is hardly an anti gun state, I carry all over PA and rarely run into any grief about it.

    2. avatar Tom in PA says:

      I just can’t get over the city of the “First Class” definition as it relates to Philadelphia. That’s nearly the equivalent of selling a house and describing its best feature as the bubbling, festering cesspool of human waste in the southeast corner of the property.

  3. avatar Stogie says:

    The “Pennsylvania Human Relations Act” is basically a state statute providing discrimination in the workplace. I suspect that some have mixed “Rights” up with “Relations”. It was originally created in 1955 and last amended in 1997, with the intent to address HR department practices. It can be found: herehttp://www.phrc.pa.gov/Resources/Law-and-Legal/Pages/The-Pennsylvania-Human-Relations-Act.aspx#.WTR4OuvyuCg

    Technically, my workplace is supposed to be gun free, but with half the company being hunters, I doubt every car in the parking lot is gun free.

    Also, last I heard, Philly is not open carry without a permit, and is the only municipality in PA that is permitted to restrict some gun rights.

    1. avatar Mr.Savage says:

      that’s how my workplace is, I know of three guaranteed, and several others likely to have a pistol in the car. don’t ask, don’t tell, and there has yet to be an issue, but we are protected to some degree.

    2. avatar Johannes Paulsen says:

      Thanks, Stogie.

  4. avatar Usul72 says:

    Open carry is only legal in Philly if you have a permit.

    …18 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (Carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia) a License To Carry Firearms is required to carry a firearm in any manner on the streets or public property of a “City of the first class” (Philadelphia.)….(http://www.pafoa.org/law/)

    de facto legal everywhere else in the Commonwealth as there are no laws specifically banning it.

    1. avatar Johannes Paulsen says:

      Sure, and concealed carry is also legal in Pennsylvania with a license. Both concealed carry and open carry are legal throughout the Commonwealth, albeit with different licensing requirements.

      Because of this, Goodman was wrong to claim that Philadelphia wasn’t an “open carry” locale. There are a few dedicated activists (some active on PAFOA) who have helped educate the public (and the local police) on this point.

  5. avatar Omer Baker says:

    I’d like to see the list of exempted places.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Pfffft. We don’t need a law to make us a protected class. Our guns do that.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Our guns do that.”

      Home, in the safe, resting with their friends, out of your reach, not so much…

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Home carry, my friend. Home carry.

        And any place where I can’t carry, I don’t go.

  7. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Not really the appropriate way to deal with hoplophobic discrimination IMHO. If an employer wishes to ban employees from bringing their fir earms onto the premise that’s their right. It is the right of the employee to either have a secure workplace or to be able to provide for his/her own security. So if a woman gets nabbed and raped on her way to her car after work, then her employer should be on the hook for a multi-million dollar lawsuit. The problem is that the employer isn’t liable for their employees’ safety but if an employee misuses a firea rm then the employer IS liable.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      My workplace (where, ironically, we sell guns) is employee “gun free.”

      Guess how much I give a shit.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Well we’d all really hate to see you get raped on the way to your car.

        1. avatar ZenGun says:

          OW¡!
          I can’t unthink that.

        2. avatar Ralph says:

          Who says I drive there?

        3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          Well if you’re taking public transportation you should maybe think about more modest wardrobe.

    2. avatar Roymond says:

      Last I looked, it said “shall not be infringed”, not “Congress shall make no law”. “Shall not be infringed” is universal; it means no one has a legal right to make you disarm, because no law purporting to give such a right is valid.

      Businesses can’t limit your right to free exercise of your religion, or of your free speech, unless your exercise of those rights is done in a way that interferes with the operation of their business, so they certainly can’t limit your exercise of bearing arms for any lesser reason.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        I agree. Unfortunately, courts have seemed confused about the English language, in the past.

  8. avatar Hank says:

    I like it. Using the luberals own tactics against them. We could take this several steps further. Get free rides to college for being a gun owner. Force companies to hire more gun owners via affirmative action. We could make gun ownership an “identity” and use it to get new gun owner bathrooms.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      Gun owner bathrooms?

      What would that entail? A generic holster on the stall wall next to the TP roll? Soaps scented to smell of gunpowder? Self-healing targets on the walls? An attendant who supplies you with RemOil wipes and a fresh Bore Snake?

      1. avatar Kevin76 says:

        Hoppes 9 scented soaps….other than that sounds good to me

      2. avatar Hank says:

        Excellent ideas! The urinal cakes could be effigies of Finestine or Bloomberg.

      3. avatar The Duke says:

        I’m only asking cause I’m concerned, what are you using the boresnake and Remoil for?

        I really hope it’s per the manufacturers instructions

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          Lol! For when Phillips gentle relief just doesn’t get it done?

          I was thinking for your gun so I guess they could make a special gun bidet.

  9. avatar The Duke says:

    I hate the idea of being a protected class. The left is stamping out bigotry by creating a legally divided culture, like India or some of those Islamic countries, we don’t need to join and further this ideology

    Does anyone see the irony in getting rid of bigotry by furthering the divides

    1. avatar Roymond says:

      The idea of a protected class is intrinsic to the nature of a Republic, since one of the primary points of a Republic is to protect the rights of its citizens. All a protected class is is a group recognized to be citizens others are treating in such a way as to render them effectively second-class citizens — it’s a way to say, “No, they aren’t lesser, they’re equal”.

      The only bad part about it is that we have a society which has any need of the concept of a protected class, because that need indicates that a significant portion of the populace fails at understanding what it is to be a free citizen of a free society, that it comes with the basic obligation of treating others as you would have yourself by treated.

      1. avatar The Duke says:

        I disagree that it is intrinsic to a republic, in a republic all citizens are created equal.

        It is a failing of human nature that creates second class citizens, people naturally view those who are different as a lesser group.

        A republic is indifferent to the people it governors and can operate without protected classes and provide equality for all. It only begins to fail that when individuals begin to influence the society without treating others as you would want to be treated. And so now we have to create laws and guidelines for protecting those minorities.

        What better way to permanently identify someone as second class than create a legal definition that forces them into that class?

  10. avatar Ralph Humphrey says:

    ““The Second Amendment right is not overly burdened here”..
    Excuse me.. There should be no burden at all.. (That’s why they said, “shall not be infringed”!!

    1. avatar AFGus says:

      Exactly! The right to bear arms for self protection is a human right. The 2nd Amendment guarantees that human right cannot be infringed upon. That means that we are “already” a protected class. It’s just that simple!

    2. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

      !!!! 8 million thumbs up!!!! What part of “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED DOESN’T ANYONE UNDERSTAND !!!” Not government, not landlords, not employers, not organizations, etc…No one may restrict another lawful US citizens rights through arbitrary and capricious means !!!

  11. avatar Kendahl says:

    There is nothing new about employers trying, with considerable success, to control aspects of their employees’ lives that are unrelated to job performance. I know of a fairly large company where a spouse and children are an unwritten requirement for promotion to a management position. That actually makes sense in a perverse way. Someone with a family to support will tolerate more unfair treatment than someone responsible only for himself.

    With regard to the Breitbart comment about employees “rendered defenseless”, that’s by design, not by accident. If an employee were to take out a would-be murderer hand to hand or using improvised weapons, he would be fired. The “justification” would be that non-resistance is still the wisest policy and he was merely lucky not to have made a bad situation worse.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      One of my sons got married in order to work at a company like that, 20+ years ago. Company was just as asshat in other ways, he quit in less than a year, marriage lasted 2 more years. That stuff is really bullshit.

  12. avatar Oliver says:

    Gun owner is a race. Therefore being against guns is racist. And I can prove all of that with math. Seriously.

    1. avatar ZenGun says:

      Just as it was done with corporations being individuals.
      The math will alway$ ad up and ju$tify that outcome.

    2. avatar Hank says:

      You should keep going with this and write up awhole article and submit it to TTAG

  13. avatar ZenGun says:

    Shira and Tabatha…
    Two thoughtful young ladies living in a world of butterfly’s, unicorns, kittens and warm fuzzy feelings.
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, the bright sunshine makes me feel warm all over…

  14. avatar Bob says:

    None of this really matters.

    Pa is a privilege to work state, you can be fired from your job for no reason at all.

    An employer can dislike you for any reason and fire you for no reason.

    Example, Bobs boss finds out he’s Muslim, Bob gets fired the next day, Bobs employer states the reason for termination is he is no longer required.
    Totally legal.

    Maybe Pa legislators should work on that instead?

    PS,

    Ive been fired from jobs here and found the only reason was that they hire new people on who work under probation status for a year, during your probation you don’t receive benefits and a low wage, so they fire people after a year and just hire new.

    fun fun

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Sounds like a good reason to gain qualifications which are not as easy to duplicate! As in, go back to school.

      1. avatar Bob says:

        That’s basically how you keep jobs around here, your skills make you valuable and harder to replace.

        But Isn’t that how it should be, I mean, who wants to work for someone who doesn’t agree with their life choices or views, some yes, but I know if say I were an interracial couple, I wouldn’t want to continue to work for a boss who hated it.

  15. avatar pg2 says:

    If they can deny people employment, or fire existing employees for refusing flu vaccines, then why not?

  16. avatar oldshooter says:

    By far, the most appropriate solution is not to create yet another “protected class,” but to do away with the very concept of such classes altogether. There is NO valid reason for having ANY protected classes, and their mere existence is directly contrary to our founding and constitutional principles, whose very foundation rests on the belief that “all men are created equal.” If that principle were actually upheld, as our courts SHOULD have been doing all along, there would be no need to provide special protections for any particular group of citizens.

  17. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

    The best solution is to make the businesses liable for any harm that results as a matter of the disarmament policies and make businesses w/o the policies immune from liability that results from allowing arms on the premises.

  18. avatar Chiefton says:

    Nobody can hang a sign outside of their business saying “No gays allowed” or “No ____ (pick your ethnic race) allowed” as those are clear violations of the Bill of Rights. If your business is open to the public then the same thing holds true for those who exercise their 2nd amendment right. “Shall not be infringed” is all inclusive of government and businesses. That, in my opinion, is exactly the same as denying an individual of your publicly provided services, because a person is gay, because of their race, or because yo are exercising any of your rights dictated in the Bill of Rights. Lawsuits needs to be filed to get businesses to cease and desist this behavior and unconstitutional conduct.

    1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

      “as those are clear violations of the Bill of Rights”

      No, they are not. They might be violations of the Civil Rights Act or some similar legislation. The Bill of Rights prohibits the government, not private parties, from violating your rights.

      1. avatar oldshooter says:

        Good point; however, it seems to me that all laws creating a Special protected class of persons in the
        USA are contrary to our fundamental founding principle expressed in the Declaration as “all men are created equal.” Thus, they should be null and void. The basic concept that all people are equal under the law would suggest that, unless private property rights have priority, no one can be legally refused service. However, if private property rights (and we are speaking of businesses that offer services to the public here, not private homes) take priority, then not only gun carriers, but also minorities of whatever type, can be refused service in private businesses at their whim. An interesting dilemma.

        1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

          That’s a fair statement of the argument that often takes place. I would suggest that the first question in any argument about the law should be whether the government has the authority to pass and enforce such a law. The answer in the case of federal civil rights statutes is generally the Commerce Clause. States generally have broader authority than the federal government.

    2. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

      Just like I said above…No infringements by anyone..through ” arbitrary and capricious means…” To deprive any lawful US citizen of rights and liberties…..

  19. avatar Jim Macklin says:

    Perhaps States, such as Pennsylvania, should post signs that identify proper, legal and approved procedures.

    IN CASE OF TERRORIST ATTACK
    Diall 911
    Hide
    If able run out to your car, don’t forget your keys, and get your gun.
    If you are not even allowed to keep your gun locked in your vehicle,
    Drive home. Then stay there because everybody has probably died waiting for POLICE to arrive.

  20. avatar Frank in VA says:

    Doesn’t a slash across the word ‘No’ mean that ‘No’ is banned? In other words….Yes.

    Yes, trucks on the lot, except for delivery. If you are there for delivery, piss off.

    I’m going with that.

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