Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Car and its Contents are MY Private Property

A debate is going about whether or not a business owner who has a parking lot open to the public can tell his or her employees what is and what is not allowed to be within their cars while parked there. I personally think the answer is simple & straight forward. If a business has a parking lot that is not locked up & protected by security guards than the parking lot is essentially open to the public. If the public can park their privately owned vehicles with their privately owned contents than why can't the employees?

Trying to tell employees that they are not allowed to have a lawfully stored gun in their privately owned vehicle which is an extension of their own home is a violation of the private property rights of that employee.

Below is a related article by the NRA-ILA that sums it up quite nicely:

Parking Lot Gun Laws and the Right to Transport Firearms

Should people who lawfully possess firearms be able to leave them locked in their motor vehicles, on business property? Common sense would say, "yes." All 50 states allow the transportation of firearms in motor vehicles for all lawful purposes and 48 states allow the carrying of firearms in vehicles for personal protection, in some manner.1 More than one of every four of America`s 65-80 million gun owners carries a firearm in his or her vehicle for protection.2

The U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of 46 states protect the right to arms and/or self-defense.3 And since 1986, federal law has protected the right to transport firearms in vehicles interstate.4

However, over the last few years disagreements over the right of people to leave firearms locked in their vehicles on business property have arisen. As a result, five state legislatures have passed, and during their current legislative sessions additional states are considering passing, laws to protect that right.5

The issue began in 2002 in Oklahoma, when the Weyerhaeuser corporation fired employees for having guns in personal vehicles on company property. The Oklahoma Legislature responded, unanimously in the House and by a vote of 92-4 in the Senate, by prohibiting "any policy or rule" prohibiting law-abiding people "from transporting and storing firearms in a locked vehicle."

Arguments raised against the right of people, particularly employees, to leave firearms in locked vehicles on business property are unconvincing:

* A business owner`s private property rights are not affected by a law preventing the micro-management of the lawful contents of a person`s privately-owned automobile. Moreover, an employer`s private property interests do not trump a person`s right to have a firearm available for self-defense, if needed, during the daily commute to and from work. As with all civil rights, employers and owners of commercial property may not act with disregard to the rights of citizens. Reasonable accommodation is the foundation of the protection of all civil rights.
* A commercial landowner is subject to numerous limits, imposed by the federal, state and local governments, on what may and may not occur on its property.
* Employees have a legitimate private property interest where their automobiles and their contents are concerned. In our legal system, property rights extend to property other than land.
* Most gun-related violent crimes in workplaces are committed by non-employees. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 84% of all workplace murders are committed by strangers; 7% are committed by current or former employees.6 Naturally, strangers and former employees are not bound by any company policy pertaining to employees.
* Anyone determined to commit a violent crime will not be prevented from doing so by a mere company policy against having guns in cars. This should go without saying, since criminals are already willing to break laws against murder, rape, robbery and assault.
* Laws protecting the right to leave firearms in locked motor vehicles do not authorize a person to have a firearm outside his or her vehicle.
* Laws protecting the right to leave firearms in locked motor vehicles on business property specifically protect the property owner from liability for any related injuries or damages. Also, if a business prohibits people from possessing the means to defend themselves in their vehicles, it is potentially liable for injuries and damages incurred for failure to provide adequate security.
* The problem of workplace crimes has been exaggerated. The nation`s violent crime rate has declined every year since 1991 and is now at a 30-year low, the murder rate is at a 39-year low, and workplace violent crime has decreased more than violent crime generally. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says, "the circumstances of workplace homicides differ substantially from those portrayed by the media and from homicides in the general population."7


1. Only Illinois and Wisconsin do not have such laws.

2. USA Today/CNN/Gallup National Poll, Dec. 17-19, 1993.

3. The constitutions of the United States and all states except California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York protect the right to possess firearms for protection, recreation, sports, hunting, and other lawful purposes. Iowa and New Jersey`s constitutions protect the right to self-defense in general terms.

4. 18 U.S.C. sec. 926A.

5. In 1998, Kentucky`s Attorney General determined that state law prohibits employers from prohibiting people from having firearms in their vehicles. Minnesota`s Right-to-Carry law (2003) prohibits employers from prohibiting carry permit holders from having firearms in their vehicles. Laws protecting the right of any lawful possessor of a firearm to have a firearm in a personally-owned vehicle were passed in Oklahoma and Alaska in 2005, and Mississippi in 2006.

6. "Violence in the Workplace, 1993-1999," Dec. 2001 (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/vw99.pdf). The study also noted, the highest percentage of work-related murders occur between 8p.m.-12 a.m., when most businesses are closed.

7. "Violence in the Workplace," July 1996 (www.cdc.gov/niosh/violhomi.html).

Posted: 2/15/2006 12:00:00 AM

Copyright 2008, National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action.
This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.


Anonymous said...

I've changed my mind on this. The contract between you and your employer is private. Your employer can tell you that you must spend part of your day in a specific building wearing a specific tie and carry exactly $5.42 in nickels in your left pocket. If they wish to tell you to not carry in your car, you have the right to tell them to shove a large watermelon up their ass and quit. Or, just carry and take your chances.

So long as I am under no legal threat, there is nothing to gain here. For example, say, I get mugged in the parking lot and pull my gun. I don't think the company has the right to have me arrested for armed trespass, but they can fire my happy ass just as easily as I can quit on a moment's notice.

Dustin said...

That is a very good point Rob. I can see your viewpoint. I personally feel that there are certain limits to what an employer can require of its employees which I think we can all agree on. The difference we may have would be where we draw the line.

Personally I would draw the line where the employees rights are infringed by the employer. For example, an employer can tell me I must wear a white shirt & tie because he wants his employees to dress nicely or that I am not allowed to swear at his or her customers. I could go along with that. However, an employer can't say he or she will only employ me if I am White as that would violate my civil rights. He can't tell me that I am not allowed to have a lawfully owned firearm in my privately owned extension of my home - my vehicle - as that would violate my 2nd Amendment rights.

I could go along with an employer saying I don't have a right to be carrying a firearm into the office because I am now on his property rather than in my property (in my car)

Just my .02 cents. I know that this is not always a black & white issue so there are probably as many opinions as there are individuals. :)

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer laws that remove all liability from the employer should I use my gun. Most companies only fear the lawsuits which they shouldn't be held responsible for but in today's legal climate, are.

If someone decides to shoot up the facilities department, it's not my company's fault.

Again, they can fire me for any reason imaginable, the "rule" would be in place even if not written and there'd be very little I could do to prove it was because of the firearm. If there's no legal recourse against me, then there's nothing I really care about using political capital on.

Yes, I would love for our society to not give 2 shakes of a rat's tail if I carried openly in a day care, but that perception is hard to change. I'm working on it though.

Dustin said...

That is a good idea too. Employers should only be held liable if they create a gun free zone, or as it is more aptly named, a "defenseless victim zone" and as a result of being disarmed either customers or employees get injured or killed by a maniac who takes advantage of the fish in a barrel situation created by said employer.

Anonymous said...

Why not just include ccw and lawful transportation of a firearm under ant-discrimination laws? Almost everyone agrees that employers cannot discriminate against employees for certain reasons, so let's just include ccw and lawful transportation to the already long list.

Anonymous said...

A business owner's property rights end at the soles of my shoes, or at the interface of rubber on my tires. Beyond those limits are my property rights. Yes an employment contract can stipulate a dress code and even request behaviour, within bounds.

Why do people keep trying to see where the businesses are coming from when the people running those businesses refuse to return the favor?

Anonymous said...

KY has a law that specfically states that, while forbidding concealed carry in company owned buildings and vehicles, employers can not forbid firearms in private vehicles on company lots as long as the vehicle is locked and the firearm is out of sight. My employer, however, posts signs throughout the building stating that employees lockers and vehicles are subject to random search. Hmmm? Yes, they would fire someone in a second without thinking and fight any lawsuit brought as a result. Anyone want to be a test case?

Anonymous said...

I am a driver for Fedex, they say we are not allowed to have firearms in our personal vehicles. More than 60% of us do and about half of us have permits. Recently a UPS worker was the subject of a random personal vehicle check and they found a loaded .38 revolver the driver stated he had a permit and it was his constitutional right to carry. He was fired. He fought to get his job back and won. Not only did he get his job back but also received monatary damages. The amount was not released as part of the deal he made with UPS. I say good for him and I will continue to exercise my second amendment right an carry my fully loaded 1911 each and everyday

louiskart said...

Other say we are not allowed to have firearms in our personal vehicles. More than 60% of us do and about half of us have permits. Recently a UPS worker was the subject of a random personal vehicle check and they found a loaded .38 revolver the driver stated he had a permit and it was his constitutional right to carry. nice blog by the way.

TC said...

I was just recently fired from a job because they did a random search of my personal vechile in the employee parking lot and found my hand gun lock in my vechile. I'm fighting for my job back I was reading the blogs regarding the UPS driving and was wondering what state it happen in? It could be helpful to my case.

Dustin said...

TC: Unfortunately I don't have any information about that, and the comment was made by an anonymous person. I tried doing several searches for the UPS Driver story mentioned but was not successful.

On a side note, are you able to provide more details on what happened to you or would that endanger your case? Be sure to contact the SAF & the NRA - they may be able to assist.

Mommy of 3 girls said...

I work for a company that had no employee parking but there are two public parking lots and two public roads that we can park on. The company had assigned parking spots in and on the public lots and roads. They make the little guys walk to a lot 1/4 mile away and park in another public lot. Several of us were just sent home for parking on the public road because the company says we can't park there despite the fact its a public road with no parking restrictions. Is there anything we can do??
Thank you!