Bush lawyer enlisted by opposition to Florida HB503


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Braz1956
April 14, 2008, 12:05 PM
Will Crist sign? Lots of pressure being brought not to.
He has until midnight Wednesday night to sign.


http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/state/article452031.ece

Guns-to-work opponents pressure Crist

By Alex Leary, Times Staff Writer


TALLAHASSEE Alarmed by passage of a bill allowing people to bring guns to work, opponents on Thursday huddled with a powerful constitutional lawyer and put pressure on Gov. Charlie Crist to veto the measure.

Top business groups have enlisted Barry Richard, one of President Bush's advisers in the Florida vote recount in 2000, to research issues that could provide the basis for a court challenge.

"An argument can be made that it doesn't serve any legitimate public purpose that overcomes private property rights," Richard said of the bill. "... They are saying you have to allow something on your property that could pose a significant hazard."

The issue leapt to the forefront on Wednesday after the state Senate approved the bill on a party-line vote, something the House had already done. Crist has indicated he will sign it into law.

The bill (HB 503) prohibits businesses from barring employees or customers from bringing firearms with them and leaving them in locked cars. Employers could not search vehicles, fire workers or remove customers who have guns as long as the weapon is not exhibited for any other reason than lawful self-defense.

As a concession to get the bill passed, only employees with concealed weapons licenses would be protected. There are about 487,000 license holders in Florida.

The issue represents an epic clash between two bedrock constitutional issues gun rights and property rights.

"The U.S. Constitution begins, 'We the people' not 'We the corporation,' " said Marion Hammer, the Florida lobbyist for the National Rifle Association who fought three years to get the bill passed.

Hammer, who dismisses fears about increased workplace violence, points to the Second Amendment and additional protections in the state Constitution allowing people to bear arms and for the government to regulate that freedom.

But opponents say that does not trump private property rights under the Fifth and 14th amendments as well as the state Constitution. University of Florida constitutional law professor Joe Little agreed.

"The essence of the ownership of property is the right to exclude others from the property," he said. "It's like the old westerns check your guns at the door."

Last year, a judge struck down a similar law in Oklahoma, saying it conflicted with federal workplace safety guidelines. That decision, which has been appealed, would likely play a role in any legal challenge in Florida.

The pro and con arguments in Florida, however, have been more focused on constitutional matters, portending a captivating legal showdown.

In a sign of how delicate the situation is, powerful trade groups in Tallahassee declined to say whether they were laying the groundwork for a lawsuit.

"We're focused on the governor's veto," said David Daniel, chief lobbyist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which was most aggressively fighting the legislation.

Last week, Tampa-based Sweetbay Supermarket vented its concerns to state senators and Crist in an e-mail, calling the bill an "assault" on private-property owners and employers.

"The passage of this bill will force businesses and any other private property owner to allow firearms on their property," the company wrote. "Even more disturbing, if I comply with the provisions of this legislation and it results in a gun-related crime being committed on my property, I may be held legally responsible!"

Theresa Gallion, an attorney at Fisher & Phillips in Tampa, who represents businesses on employment issues, said her phone has been ringing nonstop since the bill passed Wednesday.

"I'll tell you, our clients are apoplectic," she said. "It's as if the Legislature lost its mind and decided the Second Amendment was more important than any other law or interest of its kind. It's really weird."

Gallion said some of her clients are already trying to figure out how they can get around the law, such as by "stretch(ing) the limits" of its few exemptions.

Among the employers exempted by the bill are schools, defense contractors and businesses that make, use, store or transport certain combustible or explosive materials.

Many manufacturers, for example, could seek protection under the latter exemption.

"The employer, under federal and state law, has the ability to place reasonable limits on even the most cherished of our rights," Gallion said. "I can't use the F word at work without getting into trouble. These are reasonable, everyday restrictions to the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment is not special."

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strat81
April 14, 2008, 12:27 PM
They are saying you have to allow something on your property that could pose a significant hazard.
How is a gun that is locked in a trunk a hazard? Will it grow legs and arms, open the trunk, walk across the street, and shoot up a school... all by itself?

XDKingslayer
April 14, 2008, 12:32 PM
He'll sign it because he knows what's good for him.

Dave P
April 14, 2008, 01:07 PM
Why is Charlie dragging his feet here - sign the dang thing - that's what we want!

bogie
April 14, 2008, 01:09 PM
The real question (and it doesn't matter that some guy they hired worked for a Bush - I'm guessing the OP wants everyone to hate the Bush) is...

What comprises the "top business groups" who are opposing the effort? That's where we need to bring the pressure to bear.

Winchester 73
April 14, 2008, 02:08 PM
What comprises the "top business groups" who are opposing the effort? That's where we need to bring the pressure to bear.

Those are the code words for Chamber of Commerce's and Better Business Bureaus's throughout our wonderful Sunshine State, who live off the contributions of the real big business in Florida:St Joe Paper,CSX Railroad,Florida Power and Light,etc,etc,etc.

camacho
April 14, 2008, 02:17 PM
"The passage of this bill will force businesses and any other private property owner to allow firearms on their property," the company wrote. "Even more disturbing, if I comply with the provisions of this legislation and it results in a gun-related crime being committed on my property, I may be held legally responsible!"

Isn't there a provision in this bill that exempts business from liability?

xsquidgator
April 14, 2008, 02:18 PM
Isn't there a provision in this bill that exempts business from liability?

I believe that provision was dropped while the bill was in committee.

mp510
April 14, 2008, 03:41 PM
Actually, the opposition raises some good points on this one. Property rights are a big deal- back when politics were allowed here, people here were livid when the supreme court allowed much expanded eminent domain rights. This really broaches the line about telling people what they must allow other, surbodinant people, to do on their property.

Marion Hammer's argument is also weak-
1. The Second Ammendment has not been incorporated as applying to the states.
2. Unless this is a bon-a-fide national defense issue, it should be a state matter, not a federal matter, to which the 2nd should not be brought into the equasion.
3. Even with if this is signed, Florida is (rightfully) an at will employment state.
4. Corporations are legal persons

For pragmatic purposes, the bill is a good idea, and a path in the right direction. However, I would be pretty pissed if the government started telling me how to run my business or what to do with my property. Wouldn't you?

bogie
April 14, 2008, 04:10 PM
"code words" don't cut it. Lose the tinfoil. If someone's hiring someone, and they're public, there's a trail. If indeed the chambers of commerce are opposing this, then they need to get bombed with full e-mail boxes about how us damn yankees are going to take our tourism dollars elsewhere.

Braz1956
April 14, 2008, 04:22 PM
It's very clear the Florida Chamber of Commerce opposes HB503.

Look here:

http://www.flchamber.com/mx/hm.asp?id=leg_coalition_gunsatwork

Winchester 73
April 14, 2008, 06:04 PM
:D
"code words" don't cut it. Lose the tinfoil.


Bogie,I was trying to be succinct.No one has less tinfoil.:D

bogie
April 14, 2008, 06:14 PM
http://www.flchamber.com/mx/hm.asp?id=sitedoc4

It has phone numbers. And Marian actually answered her own phone. They're not getting my tourist dollars.

Post when you call. Let's see some momentum.

bogie
April 14, 2008, 06:22 PM
C'mon. Are you guys talkers, or doers?

strat81
April 14, 2008, 07:01 PM
For pragmatic purposes, the bill is a good idea, and a path in the right direction. However, I would be pretty pissed if the government started telling me how to run my business or what to do with my property. Wouldn't you?
Businesses are subject to quite a bit of government telling them what to do. Of course, there's stuff like EPA, OSHA, etc. Something that recently ruffled feathers in Nebraska was a statewide smoking ban. Aside from hotel rooms and medical research centers, you cannot smoke in any business in Nebraska, including all bars and restaurants.

Bars and restaurants are ticked off.

In some states you cannot sell your personal property (guns) unless the transaction goes through an FFL.

The government already tells people what to do. I'm not saying it's right, but at least the spirit of this bill is not some bliss-ninny feel-good garbage. It's about the right of people to defend themselves and it seems like a fair compromise. Buildings are still under the control of the business, but parking lots are not. If I can already take my personal property (car) onto your real property (parking lot), what difference does it make what's locked in the trunk when I exit the vehicle?

camacho
April 14, 2008, 10:47 PM
I believe that provision was dropped while the bill was in committee.

I was not sure myself and checked the enrolled version on the Florida House website and this is what I found within:

(5) DUTY OF CARE OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE EMPLOYERS; IMMUNITY
FROM LIABILITY.--
(a) When subject to the provisions of subsection (4), a public or private employer has no duty of care related to the actions prohibited under such subsection.
(b) A public or private employer is not liable in a civil action based on actions or inactions taken in compliance with this section. The immunity provided in this subsection does not apply to civil actions based on actions or inactions of public or private employers that are unrelated to compliance with this section.
(c) Nothing contained in this section shall be interpreted to expand any existing duty, or create any additional duty, on the part of a public or private employer, property owner, or property owner's agent.


If I am reading this correctly, it appears that there is an immunity clause. Provided this is the case why such a vehement opposition to this bill from Big Business :confused:

BHinNC
May 1, 2008, 10:05 AM
I wanted to give you all another perspective on this. I see this as an extremely bad move on the part of the NRA, and only detrimental to our country.

On first glance the bill may seem like a good thing, but property rights are nothing to screw with, and this bill completely has it's way with them.

Everyone on this board should be against this measure, because eventually, it will serve as nothing but a tool to defeat us.

My conversations with the NRA-ILA are here (http://bradharper.com/2008/05/01/nra-continues-shooting-own-foot/), check them out if you want to see where and why they are wrong.

I value firearms as much as anyone on this board, but this battle is about more than guns.

(Sorry if some see this as spam, if that's the case, hopefully the mods will just delete it.)

Henry Bowman
May 1, 2008, 10:33 AM
BHinNC, your post is not spam. You stated an opinion, on topic and in a respectful manner. Whether the majority agrees with you does not determine whether the content of you opinion is "spam."

Welcome to THR!

mbt2001
May 1, 2008, 11:08 AM
BHinNC:

I do agree with you to a point... Rights and Freedoms are in CONSTANT conflict with one another. That is the sign of a healthy national debate and democracy.

CypherNinja
May 1, 2008, 05:41 PM
The only point I can make in this debate is that vehicles are often legally viewed as mobile pieces of private property.

The bill does not say that employers must allow people to carry on the premises. It only states that employers must allow CCW holders to (securely and unobtrusively) store their carry guns in their car, which is the CCW holder's private property.

It is a private property issue on both sides of the argument. The car is resting on the employers private property, yes, but the car itself and it's contents are the employees private property as well.

Mannlicher
May 1, 2008, 09:50 PM
Once we get a positive decision with the Heller case, it will be a moot point. I believe the SCOTUS will decide that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. As such it should trump property rights to a large extent.
The Florida Chamber and others opposed to this measure are blowing smoke, and are not being honest with their objections.
Thank goodness that Crist signed the bill into law.

bogie
May 1, 2008, 10:23 PM
+438

Heh, heh...

BHinNC
May 1, 2008, 10:56 PM
"As such it should trump property rights to a large extent."

"It" fundamentally *is* a property right. The 2nd Amendment ties together two premises - that you have a right to life, and that you have a right to possess firearms. The combination of the two enables you to use the latter to maintain the former. Without each of these corollary rights, the 2nd is doomed.

The Florida bill is minimizing one to emphasize the other. The problem is that any compromise for one also hinders the other.

"The Florida Chamber and others opposed to this measure are blowing smoke, and are not being honest with their objections."

They have good reason supporting their opposition. Even as an advocate and CCW holder, If I were a business owner in that area I'd be pissed.

If an individual’s right to property is subject to the whim of political consensus, then what’s the proposed wildcard for excluding a specific type of property (firearms) from such whim?

-bh

scurtis_34471
May 2, 2008, 08:35 AM
I think the entire stragegy behind this law is flawed. The law should have nothing to do with guns. It should simply deal with the fact that the inside of my car is my personal property and does not cease to be my property just because I park my car.

TexasRifleman
May 2, 2008, 08:58 AM
"An argument can be made that it doesn't serve any legitimate public purpose that overcomes private property rights," Richard said of the bill. "... They are saying you have to allow something on your property that could pose a significant hazard."

Do they allow smoking in the parking lot?

Phil DeGraves
May 2, 2008, 09:52 AM
"Even more disturbing, if I comply with the provisions of this legislation and it results in a gun-related crime being committed on my property, I may be held legally responsible!"

"Isn't there a provision in this bill that exempts business from liability?"

So does the company assume liability if someone is victimized on their property when they are not allowed to defend themselves?
It's more of the "gun-free zone" crap. Criminals intending to commit crimes on private property will not be deterred by a policy that doesn't allow weapons. In fact, it may have exactly the opposite effect.

And, how can those companies dictate to a private citizen what they can or can't carry in their car on their way to work? It is more blissninny bull.

waterhouse
May 2, 2008, 10:20 AM
"An argument can be made that it doesn't serve any legitimate public purpose that overcomes private property rights," Richard said of the bill. "... They are saying you have to allow something on your property that could pose a significant hazard."


Do they allow smoking in the parking lot?

Even if they don't (a possibility these days) I have a sneaking suspicion they allow cars on their parking lot. I guess we shouldn't allow cars on the parking lot because they could pose a significant hazard.

BHinNC
May 2, 2008, 12:08 PM
"So does the company assume liability if someone is victimized on their property when they are not allowed to defend themselves?"

No, because employees assume such risks by accepting the terms of employment.

"It's more of the "gun-free zone" crap. Criminals intending to commit crimes on private property will not be deterred by a policy that doesn't allow weapons. In fact, it may have exactly the opposite effect."

I agree, the problem is "gun-free" nonsense. The solution however is not to use government force to change their stance by further destroying property rights. Again, I ask the question - If an individual’s right to property is subject to the whim of political consensus (for whatever reason), then what’s the proposed wildcard for excluding a specific type of property (firearms) from such whim?

If you grant them this power, it's not if, but when they'll use against you.

"And, how can those companies dictate to a private citizen what they can or can't carry in their car on their way to work?"

They can't, but once you enter their property you are bound by their terms. If you don't agree with them you are free to not pursue employment there.

If enough individuals turned down employment opportunities because the terms didn't allow them the security of protection, then employers would start to change their terms. Like most cases, this is a problem for the market to solve, not government.

MechAg94
May 2, 2008, 12:18 PM
That is not really a valid argument. The entire chemical industry bans weapons on their premises and in their parking lots.

As said by others, it is not the company's property at issue here, but the employee's property (vehicle).

Also, Company's do assume liability for the safety of employees on their premises via OSHA rules, workman's comp, and such. If someone is injured in our plant, the company foots the bill. The entire purpose of workman's comp was to insulate companies from lawsuits after the fact.

BHinNC
May 2, 2008, 12:38 PM
"That is not really a valid argument. The entire chemical industry bans weapons on their premises and in their parking lots."

I don't see your point.

"As said by others, it is not the company's property at issue here, but the employee's property (vehicle)."

Your car is your property, but that car is parked on their property. There has to be an authoritative hierarchy of rights, otherwise they'd have no legal basis to tow your car from their parking lot. If their rules specify no weapons on premises, it doesn't matter where or how, or what your justifications are, none are allowed - period. If you can't/don't accept those terms, find a new job.

Neutering a business owners right to enforce his preference to ban weapons is no different than government telling a restaurant owner, who'd otherwise allow weapons, that he can't. The underlying principle is identical. If you support the fist case, you are supporting the second - you can't have it both ways.

"Also, Company's do assume liability for the safety of employees on their premises via OSHA rules, workman's comp, and such. If someone is injured in our plant, the company foots the bill. The entire purpose of workman's comp was to insulate companies from lawsuits after the fact."

They assume liability as it pertains to your work related presence and tasks, but if an employee is assaulted in the parking lot, I don't know of any policy that deems an employer liable, and I don't think they should be, unless it's a contractual agreement.

TexasRifleman
May 2, 2008, 12:43 PM
Even if they don't (a possibility these days) I have a sneaking suspicion they allow cars on their parking lot. I guess we shouldn't allow cars on the parking lot because they could pose a significant hazard.

Even better. Their statement about allowing danger is just the most ridiculous thing....

unixguy
May 2, 2008, 03:22 PM
Your car is your property, but that car is parked on their property. There has to be an authoritative hierarchy of rights, otherwise they'd have no legal basis to tow your car from their parking lot.
I don't think I can buy into this argument. Although an authoritative hierarchy of rights might make it easier to understand and remember at first, I think it would quickly become a morass of complications.

Specific to your example of "how can a company tow your car off of their lot" -- if you are misusing their lot or damaging the lot by leaving your car there, then I don't see a problem with their being able to tow your car.

If they just decided that all the cars in the parking lot had to be no older than 18 months old, and were requiring that all employees with older cars had to park somewhere else, I could see them getting sued for it (and hopefully losing), especially if the requirement is not related specifically to job performance.

It seems to me that by your argument, an employer is within their rights to ban legal items from cars parked in their lot-- baby bottles, abortion material, religious material, anti-war pamphlets, 'support the troops' pamphlets, any thing at all that that the owners don't like. Doesn't the expectation of privacy in a private vehicle outweigh a contractual requirement?

Surely a voluntary contract that requires the surrender of basic rights is unenforceable when the enforcement is not critical to the performance of the contract?

For example, a customer service representative gets paid to represent the company and put forth a professional appearance and demeanor to the public. Language that is offensive might be legal, but detracts from the job requirement. That's why I think that sort of "surrender of rights" is legal.

If that same CSR were fired for being at a rally that the employer didn't agree with, I think that the contractual agreement doesn't apply, and should be unenforceable.

Edited to add: I fully recognize that I'm arguing from a position of "how I think the world should work" rather than from a "this is how the laws and rights have been enforced".

BHinNC
May 2, 2008, 04:00 PM
"Although an authoritative hierarchy of rights might make it easier to understand and remember at first, I think it would quickly become a morass of complications."

Wouldn't a system void of hierarchy be even more complicated?

"Specific to your example of "how can a company tow your car off of their lot" -- if you are misusing their lot or damaging the lot by leaving your car there, then I don't see a problem with their being able to tow your car."

Wouldn't failure to comply with employment related contractual terms constitute 'misusing their lot'? If your presence is acceptive of a particular set of stipulations, either you're in compliance or not.

"If they just decided that all the cars in the parking lot had to be no older than 18 months old, and were requiring that all employees with older cars had to park somewhere else, I could see them getting sued for it (and hopefully losing), especially if the requirement is not related specifically to job performance."

I disagree, laws and legal enforcement thereof should be based on rights. If an action doesn't forcefully encroach on another's right to life, liberty or property, or doesn't objectively convey intent to do so, it shouldn't be illegal.

The biggest destroyer of personal freedom and economic prosperity are subjective laws - ones that ignore the above prescription.

With your hypothetical '18 month car' rule, who's right to what would be violated?

"It seems to me that by your argument, an employer is within their rights to ban legal items from cars parked in their lot-- baby bottles, abortion material, religious material, anti-war pamphlets, 'support the troops' pamphlets, any thing at all that that the owners don't like."

I think so, as long as we're talking terms agreed upon voluntarily by consenting adults.

"Doesn't the expectation of privacy in a private vehicle outweigh a contractual requirement?"

Not if the contract specifies otherwise.

"Surely a voluntary contract that requires the surrender of basic rights is unenforceable when the enforcement is not critical to the performance of the contract?"

Why would an individual agree to terms unless they've carefully determined a position on them? That's why I come back to the notion that if one doesn't like the proposed terms set forth for employment (for coming onto an employers property), try to negotiate or move on.

"For example, a customer service representative gets paid to represent the company and put forth a professional appearance and demeanor to the public. Language that is offensive might be legal, but detracts from the job requirement. That's why I think that sort of "surrender of rights" is legal."

What rights would the representative be surrendering? Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from any consequences resulting from any speech.

"If that same CSR were fired for being at a rally that the employer didn't agree with, I think that the contractual agreement doesn't apply, and should be unenforceable."

As someone who's been on both ends of employment terms, I disagree. An employer has the right to set the terms for employment. A potential employee has no right to be employed on terms of their choice, nor to be employed period.

"I fully recognize that I'm arguing from a position of "how I think the world should work" rather than from a "this is how the laws and rights have been enforced".

I understand, same here.

P5 Guy
May 2, 2008, 11:43 PM
4. Corporations are legal persons
And that gives them more rights than me?
Can I hold them responsible if something happens to me or mine because they will not let me have the tools to protect myself?

Rustynuts
May 3, 2008, 08:57 AM
A main problem I see with these parking lot bans, is that someone cannot always park outside and walk to work or whatever. By banning your storing of guns in their lot, they are effectively stripping you of your rights to CCW or car carry EVERYWHERE during that whole trip from home.

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