Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Florida's Gun Law - Mostly OK Legally, But Good Policy?

The challenge to one of the most recent laws prohibiting employers from banning firearms from their parking lots is summed up well in a post on the Florida Employment Law Blog, Florida Judge Upholds Most of "Bring Gun to Work" Law; Rejects Customer Section as Unconstitutional. I agree, to a point, with the author's analysis of the decision:

I think Judge Hinkle got it right when he concluded that whether the statute will lead to an increase or decrease is not clear, but that its effects will be marginal in any event.

I think that is accurate in that there will be relatively few incidents where a gun will actually make its way from the parking lot to a role in the workplace incident.

That still doesn't change my view that such laws are bad policy. First, the consequences of the one time that a gun is used so overshadows the times that it is not used, as to counterbalance all except the most potent of arguments. And I am not a big believer in the "deterrence effect" which seems to be the only argument made in support of such legislation.

Since I haven't really looked at the underlying legal arguments, I am not in any way arguing that Judge Hinkle got it wrong. A judge, doing his or her job properly, doesn't get to make value judgments about whether something is good public policy. My beef is with the Florida legislature and their counterparts in the nine other states that have passed such legislation. See, Employer Firearm Policies: Parking Lots, State Laws, OSHA, And The Second Amendment for a discussion of the currently enacted statutes.

I used to work in a pretty nasty section of Pittsburgh. My employer prohibited me from having a gun on company property, even if I kept it in my vehicle. At the time I had all of the permits that were necessary, including a certification to work as an armed guard.

About three months after I started there, our receptionist was raped. The rapist hid in her car while it was in our company parking lot. We found this out only after the Police reviewed the tape from the security cameras.

I do know that she hired a lawyer and initiated a lawsuit against the company for failure to provide security. The owner of the company settled and it never went to court.

I have no problem with a company banning guns on it's property, but if anything happens to me that could have been prevented by my carrying a gun, I am going to hold the company responsible. That includes anything from the time I leave my house, untill I return home.
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