Reason Magazine: Bob Barr & Jacob Sullum on S.397 & Conoco


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Justin
August 8, 2005, 02:55 PM
Dueling over the NRA (http://www.reason.com/sullum/barrresponse.shtml) is Bob Barr's response to Jacob Sullum's column The NRA vs. The Constitution (http://www.reason.com/sullum/080505.shtml) that appeared last Friday.

Both Sullum and Barr are smart guys, and both articles are worth reading.

If you enjoyed reading about "Reason Magazine: Bob Barr & Jacob Sullum on S.397 & Conoco" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
carebear
August 8, 2005, 03:04 PM
If only all discussions on gun rights occured between reasoned people arguing positions based on the Constitution and practicality versus higher ideals.

This kind of thing, agree or disagree, makes me happy.

taliv
August 8, 2005, 03:14 PM
i'm inclined to agree with Sullum on the one point: the NRA is carving out an exemption just for gun mfgs.

in reality, I would strongly prefer ALL manufacturers to be exempted from lawsuits where their products are used illegally.

e.g.

GM should not be sued when a speeding driver kills somebody, even though their commercials promote reckless driving.

gnutella/napster/bittorrent and other groups should not be sued when people violate copyrights.

Fletchette
August 8, 2005, 03:19 PM
I maintain that people have rights, corporations do not. Corporations are state-chartered entities that exist at the will of the state. This is why, when corporations get so big that they are monopolies and not beneficial to the welfare of the people, the state may break them up or otherwise revoke their charter. Bully for Teddy!

Conoco does not have the right to prohibit Jews from working on it's property, nor does it have the right to prohibit any other rights in the Bill of Rights. If Conoco were a sole proprietorship, then the owner of the company can indeed exclude Jews, etc. But, as a sole proprieorship, the owner of Conoco would be personally liable for any lawsuits against Conoco. If Conoco went bankrupt, the stockholders could take the owners house.

Corporations, like liberals, want it both ways. They want to be able to have the advantages without the disadvantages. Tough.

Justin
August 8, 2005, 03:41 PM
Taliv, the reason that the law specifically exempts gun makers is due to the fact that the gun industry has been singled out by people who seek to advance a political agenda via the court system.

ChandlerM
August 8, 2005, 03:52 PM
Yes, property rights is important but, I would submit that the right to live trumps property rights.

The right of defending oneself from a vicious killer outweighs the right of a property owner to tell you that you cannot, 'eh?

taliv
August 8, 2005, 04:13 PM
i understand, Justin, but I'm saying the situtation isn't unique. The RIAA and MPAA are suing other ligitimate companies out of business in order to advance their political agenda, which involves extending copyright protection far beyond what was originally in the constitution.

their logic is identical: "people are using your product/service to do illegal things. it's easier to sue you than to address root problems with all those people, so we're going to bankrupt you."

granted, i don't expect the NRA to push for non-gun-related legislation, but Sullum has a valid point when he says this theory should apply to all businesses.

longrifleman
August 8, 2005, 04:37 PM
but Sullum has a valid point when he says this theory should apply to all businesses.

I agree. With this bill, the precedent in law as well as some case law will make it easier to get the frivilous lawsuits against other industries thrown out. Hopefull, the lawsuits won't even be filed in the first place.

Another example of the Second Ammendment defending other rights (without a shot being fired). Too bad the anti's won't be smart enough to realise how valuable RKBA really is.

Augustwest
August 8, 2005, 04:41 PM
The right of defending oneself from a vicious killer outweighs the right of a property owner to tell you that you cannot, 'eh?

Not when you're voluntarily on his property it doesn't...

Justin
August 8, 2005, 04:45 PM
Taliv, that's a good point. I hadn't thought of it in terms of the RIAA lawsuits. And I agree that ideally such immunity should be extended to all companies.

3rdpig
August 8, 2005, 04:58 PM
If our constitution were abided by, then the legislation protecting gun manufacturers would be totally unecessary. But that's not the case. Now what would be better would be a law that states that any litigation that's deemed "frivilous" by the presiding judge would require the person or group filing the lawsuit to pay one half the legal fees of the defendant, with the state or governemnt the court resides in paying the other half. This would do three things. First it would remove the real reason for bringing these suits in the first place, which isn't winning the suit, but bringing financail ruin on the gun manufacturers through legal fees. Second it would bring financial pressure on the people or groups filing these frivilous suits, eventually they'd either get tired of paying for the legal fees of the people they're trying to ruin, or run out of money. Thirdly it would bring pressure from the taxpayers when they start to see that they're tax dollars are going to pay legal fees for frivolous lawsuits. Any law like this should be supported not only by the NRA, but by labor unions and other manufactures, because if the left wing groups doing this ever succeed in destroying the gun industry, is there any doubt that they're next target would be companies that make cars, trucks, knives, power tools, or anything else they construe as dangerous?

taliv
August 8, 2005, 05:14 PM
of course, if I had my way, I would have taken an entirely different tact:

I would have defined "frivolous lawsuits" as a terrorist tactic, which turns our court system into a Weapon of Mass Distruction. Then, I'd sick the FBI on these terrorist groups like the brady bunch and detain them indefinitely at gitmo w/o access to lawyers.

heh

Standing Wolf
August 8, 2005, 08:27 PM
The right of defending oneself from a vicious killer outweighs the right of a property owner to tell you that you cannot, 'eh?
Not when you're voluntarily on his property it doesn't...

Life still outweighs property, and anyway, the issue is whether citizens may keep their own, privately owned firearms in their own, privately owned motor vehicles. Are corporations' properties somehow of greater importance than mere citizens'?

Justin
August 8, 2005, 08:38 PM
To my way of thinking, any individual or company has the right to ban the possession of weapons on their property, but doing so should put the responsibility of your defense on them.

Hawk
August 8, 2005, 09:47 PM
The RIAA thing, in my opinion, isn't even remotely related to S397.

Check
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/04slipopinion.html

Specifically, Docket 04-480.

The lesson was an old one: "Shred the memos" / "Wipe the hard drives". Grokster / Streamcast left a paper trail and a string of emails specifically promoting piracy. Geez - we even get emails advising clients "how to" and reference to how swell theft is in selling banner ads. :eek:

The "betamax precedent" is undamaged, IMNSHO.

If S&W and Ruger had gotten busted with a load of memos and emails bargaining directly with gangs and taking kickbacks from trauma wards for increasing ER traffic (actual signed contracts in evidence) then there might be a similarity. As is, they're as different as night and day.

Augustwest
August 9, 2005, 11:11 PM
Life still outweighs property, and anyway, the issue is whether citizens may keep their own, privately owned firearms in their own, privately owned motor vehicles. Are corporations' properties somehow of greater importance than mere citizens'?

No, they're not more important. But if we start drawing distinctions between the rights of different classes of property owners, it sets a precedent for government control over all owners' rights.

And the issue isn't whether citizens may keep their own, privately owned firearms in their own, privately owned motor vehicles, it's whether they may do so on someone else's land.

It's a fine point that Sullum makes about the NRA's reasoning behind boycotting Conoco, but an important one. I, for one, will not spend my money on their products if I can help it. But that's because the company is choosing to deny its employees the option of defending themselves, not because it's resisting the state's infringement upon an owner's right to make that choice.

Fletchette
August 9, 2005, 11:24 PM
And the issue isn't whether citizens may keep their own, privately owned firearms in their own, privately owned motor vehicles, it's whether they may do so on someone else's land.

Who owns this land?

Augustwest
August 10, 2005, 09:17 AM
Who owns this land?

From the accounts I've read, Conoco does.

I wouldn't work there. I won't buy their gas. But it's up to their employees and the market to change the policy, not the government.

I do believe that with such a policy in place, that if their employees are somehow injured as a result of the policy, the the company is liable.

It's a dangerous precedent that's being set.

Fletchette
August 10, 2005, 02:27 PM
Quote:
Who owns this land?



From the accounts I've read, Conoco does.

...and is "Conoco" a person?

taliv
August 10, 2005, 02:51 PM
well, that's what "corporation" means...

Augustwest
August 10, 2005, 03:12 PM
...and is Conoco a person?

Legally, yes.

k. I'll say this once more:

If we start drawing distinctions between the rights of different classes of property owners, it sets a precedent for government control over all owners' rights.

Fletchette
August 10, 2005, 06:33 PM
well, that's what "corporation" means...

So do corporations get to vote?

Fletchette
August 10, 2005, 06:40 PM
Legally, yes.

k. I'll say this once more:

If we start drawing distinctions between the rights of different classes of property owners, it sets a precedent for government control over all owners' rights.

I guess I will have to respectfully disagree. I would agrue that, once we start drawing distinctions between the rights of different classes of citizens (regardless if they own property) it sets a presedent for government control over all citizens rights.

For example, churches do not pay property taxes and have not since the beginning of the nation's history. That is most certainly "drawing a distinction between different classes of property owners". But churches cannot vote. They cannot even legally advocate a particular canidate. Churches...are not people. People have rights.

If Conoco really wants to restrict the rights of citizens on its property then it should buy back all of it's stock and become a sole proprietorship company. It will not do that, of course, and will remain a "public" company. Note the word "public", as in "I have the right to carry in public".

carebear
August 10, 2005, 10:47 PM
Uh-uh

"Public" as in "publically traded" as in partial ownership rights in the form of stock certificates which can be bought by private individuals who then have a private ownership interest, who can then decide, with their fellow owners, what policies they want their employees, the board of directors, to implement for them.

If you want to boss Conoco around, buy a share of stock and start voting your beliefs at corporate meetings.
Otherwise you are forcing your beliefs on a bunch of other private citizens on their own land, which is kinda tyranny.

Don't like the policy, work to change it or don't go/work there.

Fletchette
August 10, 2005, 11:58 PM
So you think they had a vote among the stock holders whether to prohibit guns in private cars? I don't think so. Some exec simply decided this "policy", and that was that. Isn't that a form of "tyranny" - one person making all the decisions without consulting the property owners?

carebear
August 11, 2005, 02:27 AM
Yep, but just as we are free to remove our elected officials when they make policys we don't like, so too are the shareholders.

They may be behind the power curve, or they may agree, but the board of directors and the executive serve at their sufferance.

There's a consistency to this stuff if you look big picture.

Fletchette
August 11, 2005, 04:44 PM
Carebear,

I understand your aversion to government meddling with businessess; I do not support socialism either. But I think that it is inconsistant to give corporations so much legal standing that they have, in essense, more rights than citizens. The whole reason govenrment exists is to "secure these liberties" (individual citizens' liberties). It has long been held that allowing corporations too much power adversely affects individual liberty.

There was a time when corporations could pay wages in "corporate money" which was only redeemable in the "company store". According to your arguements, this should be allowed; people can always quit and work elsewhere.

However, a consensus developed that this was simply a scam to enslave workers such that they couldn't leave due to debt financing. The government outlawed the practice.

By the same token, the government has an obligation to step in here and protect the inalienable rights of the employees.

Corporations are legal entities that are suppossed to be subservient to the government, which is supposed to be subservient to the People.

carebear
August 11, 2005, 11:12 PM
I'm really torn on this one. My company, 3 months after I was hired, added a "no weapons" policy for employees to regs. Alaska just passed a state preemption to allow guns in public parking lots so I'm the beneficiary of the kind of law I don't necessarily think proper. It is crafted not for employees but to exempt the parking areas of buildings from bans. Bans can only start at the door.

The problem is if they own the building and they own the lot then, just as I am perfectly within my rights to bar you and your gun from not just my home but also my yard and driveway (though I wouldn't, I like shooters), they should be free to bar us from their private yards, parking and buildings. To preempt them as corporate individuals, is to also open it up for us private individuals to be forced to allow other people to do state ordered stuff on OUR yards and driveways.

So, big picture and for consistency, I have to tilt in the direction of private property rights, corporate or individual.

Fletchette
August 12, 2005, 01:38 AM
So, big picture and for consistency, I have to tilt in the direction of private property rights, corporate or individual.

It is a well-known postulate of legal theory that "reasonable men may differ". This may be just such a case. On your above statement, an effort to remain consistant, I would have to respond in kind:

...for consistency, I have to tilt in the direction of inalienable rights of citizens. So individuals should be able to excercise their rights AND protect their property rights. Recognizing that individual rights trumps corporate privilage solves the paradox.

ChandlerM
August 12, 2005, 11:41 AM
Our discussion seems to center over the idea that each amendment in the Bill of Rights have equal weight or bearing, which I think they should. But when two of the "equal" rights are in direct conflict with each other, what then?

Shouldn't perference be given towards the more basic of the conflicted rights, ie.: one has to be alive before they can own property, or tresspass on another's. One has to be alive before they can have freedom of speech. One has to have property before the government can invoke eminent domain....ect., ect.?

Does that make sense?

carebear
August 12, 2005, 11:54 AM
Flechette,

I think you nailed the dilemma. I view corporate entities, under the law, as equal in their own way with real physical people. To do otherwise on small matters opens the door to destroy the entire corporate legal position in all things, which would make a lot of how the world works economically not work at all. They had Corporations in the Founders day as well remember.

Chandler,

I would argue there is no conflict since property rights IN THIS CASE trump it all. A company can reserve the right to refuse service and can forbid you from entering their property. You have no "right" to be there other than at their sufference, thus they cannot, by definition, be "infringing" on your right to self-defense.

After all, if you don't voluntarily choose to go (or choose to seek or continue employment) where guns are forbidden by the private ownership (individual or corporate) there is no imposition on you whatsoever. Go elsewhere and carry to your hearts content.

That's why, in general, the enumerated rights are to protect us from imposition of government. We can protect ourselves from individuals by simply choosing not to associate with them. Convenience is not a right.

ChandlerM
August 12, 2005, 12:04 PM
For my situation, things are a bit more difficult regarding guns in my vehicle while in the parking lot of my employer. I work for a public school district and Michigan law allows it, but my employer might not per policy, but since it is a public school (read-government school) wouldn't state preemption laws prohibit the school's policy? Nobody seems to know for sure and I don't want to be a test case.... :p

Anyway, I'm retiring in two weeks and will no longer care what the school's policy is. :neener:

Yipee! :D

carebear
August 12, 2005, 12:14 PM
Chandler,

Sure, couldn't have an easy job for an example could ya. :D

Congrats on the retirement and your new-found freedom.

Fletchette
August 12, 2005, 12:44 PM
After all, if you don't voluntarily choose to go (or choose to seek or continue employment) where guns are forbidden by the private ownership (individual or corporate) there is no imposition on you whatsoever. Go elsewhere and carry to your hearts content.

So, would you apply this to other individual rights? Should corporations be allowed to fire employees based on religion?

Fletchette
August 13, 2005, 02:47 PM
Well, whether you think that corporations' property rights trump a citizen's inalienable rights or not, I would think that most everyone here would have to agree that I do have the right to NOT shop at Conoco... :evil:

carebear
August 13, 2005, 03:19 PM
Fire based on religion? A truly private business?

Yep. They surely should. If it hurts their business, they'll change.

There's other jobs, other places. The individual is always free to go elsewhere. They are free to worship as they choose, companies/corporations are not (and shouldn't be) required to employ any particular individual.

As my buddy/former employer says to the laborers when they whine, "You were lookin' for work when you took this job."


And yep, you are speakin' truth about not buying Conoco gas. :D

carebear
August 13, 2005, 03:30 PM
Flechette,

As I know you know (I don't want to sound all lecture-y).

The distinction I am making is that governments should not be allowed to interfere with an individual's exercise of their inalienable rights.

However, private persons, corporate or otherwise, do not possess the coercive power to interfere with another private persons exercise when it comes to voluntary associations. If your town is actually a corporate village owned by US Steel, you can quit your job, walk to another real town and attempt to get another job.

No private individual should be obligated by law to provide you with anything but the ability to be left alone. If they are, then their rights are being interfered with by the same government you expect to respect yours. Which is, to a point, hypocrisy.

The problem we are in is that the two worlds have become so intermingled by well-meaning types who want the benefits of coercion selectively applied to others due to their differences. If it involves race, creed or color it's wrong yet, because it is "just" a faceless corporate entity, it's ok to trample that particular private individual's rights to freedom of association, private property and such.

Fletchette
August 14, 2005, 04:31 PM
Carebear,

I take no offence at our dueling lectures :D

I also understand your argument, and its distinction between government and private interference of individual rights. On a purely philosophical level, I'd have to agree with you; the government cannot force private property owners to allow others to exercise their rights on their private property without the government violating the property owner's rights.

So again, on a purely philosophical level, I would oppose all the restrictions on employers to hire without regard to "race, creed or color". Part of my argument is that, "if we allow laws that prohibit the firing of people based on religion (First Amendment), we should be able to prohibit the firing of people who carry guns (Second Amendment). I acknowledge that two wrongs don't make a right, but if allow the former we should allow the latter in order to remain consistent.

The problem with the purely philosophical ideal of the government not forbidding the firing of employees based on religion, etc, is that it simply isn't practical. We have created a society with mega-corporations with little control by their stockholders, enabling significant power to be wielded by few, non-government officials (executives). The "owners" of the company (stockholders) have very little say.

That is why I make the distinction between "sole-proprietor" businesses (where the entire company is owned by one person and there is no legal distinction between that individual and the business' assets or liabilities), and a "public" corporation (one in which the CEO is not the sole owner, but the majority of the ownership belongs to the stockholders). Because the thousands of stockholders cannot be expected to come to a consensus on specific decisions necessary to running the company, they are allowed to hire someone (the CEO) to do that for them. The stockholders are ALSO relieved of their liability if the CEO violates the law. As part of the privilege to be relieved of this liability, public corporations must abide by certain practices. Not firing people based on religion is one of them. So for consistency, we should include not firing people for exercising their Second Amendment rights.

The basis of this argument is that public corporations are not "people" like a sole-proprietor is a person. Public corporations are legal entities created with a government charter, and that charter can be revoked if the government decides that the company is not operating in the public interest. This is why "trust-busting" of monopolies is legal.

The Declaration of Independence states that the only reason governments exist at all is to protect individual rights:

--We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

With this in mind, I think it is entirely consistent for the government to step in and prevent Conoco for prohibiting the lawful exercising of individual rights such as those mentioned in the First and Second Amendments.

benEzra
August 14, 2005, 05:39 PM
However, private persons, corporate or otherwise, do not possess the coercive power to interfere with another private persons exercise when it comes to voluntary associations. If your town is actually a corporate village owned by US Steel, you can quit your job, walk to another real town and attempt to get another job.
Please read that again from the standpoint of the average American who will lose EVERYTHING he has worked to create over the years if he loses his job.

The definition of "extortion" under the law does not require that a gun be placed to your head. Threatening someone with the loss of their material possessions, their house, etc. etc. is enough to convict someone of extortion.

It is one thing to voluntarily take a job knowing that there are onerous requirements involved. It is entirely another to work in good faith for years for a company with no such policy, having predicated your entire livelihood on working for them, and then have that company turn around and give you the ultimatum of Surrender These Rights Or Else. It is extortion in spirit if not in letter.

Personal extortion is NOT consistent with libertarian ideals. Neither should corporate extortion be. One of the proper roles of government is to prevent people with leverage over others from using that leverage to violate others' fundamental rights.

carebear
August 14, 2005, 05:51 PM
ben,

Alternately, at the last it is the responsibility of the individual to plan and prepare for the future, through savings, investment and even frugal living (a horror in our society) if necessary to ensure that you are not tying your future to something you cannot control. If you want to trade your time for another's wages that's fine, but it does not absolve you from taking care of your own future survival.

Social security and the whole "entitlement society" is partly to blame for this wrong-headed mindset but at any time and in any place, to trust others to invest your future (pension plans) was and is naive.

We should be monitoring the future of our trades and training for new ones if necessary, never stop educating ourselves and don't live beyond our means.

It's a tough row to hoe but it isn't anyone elses job.

NMshooter
August 14, 2005, 06:23 PM
If any business wants to restrict the right of any employee or customer to carry weapons they should also be required to accept full responsibility for their safety.

Bet you would see a lot more acceptance for ccw then. ;)

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