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NRA & AFL-CIO Agree:Guns Locked in Cars in Florida, A-OK

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Winchester 73, Apr 10, 2008.

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  1. Winchester 73

    Winchester 73 member

    Apr 10, 2007
    In a rare alliance the two influential groups agree,though for differing reasons.The Herald Editorial Board quietly sobs:


    Florida lawmakers approve gun-in-car law
    The law permits employees to keep firearms out of sight in legally parked, locked cars on company property as long as they have concealed-weapons permits.
    Posted on Thu, Apr. 10, 2008

    TALLAHASSEE -- In the three-year fight over whether citizens should be allowed to conceal their firearms in locked vehicles at work, state lawmakers have decided Florida business owners will have to bite the bullet.

    Siding with the influential gun lobby, the state Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a compromise measure allowing employees to stash firearms in their parked cars, despite the objections or policies of their employers -- as long as they have concealed-weapons permits. Already passed by the House, the bill now heads to the governor, who said Wednesday he would sign it.

    ''This is about a legal person that owns a legal firearm parked in a car that is legal, out of sight and locked up in a parking lot. Not anything else. It is a preservation of rights,'' said Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, who sponsored the bill backed by the National Rifle Association.

    Over the last three years, lawmakers have grappled with the so-called guns-at-work issue in which the Second Amendment right to bear arms has bumped up against private property rights, setting the powerful gun and business lobbies against each other.

    In the end, the watered down version of the bill was crafted to deny either side an unmitigated victory or inconsolable defeat. Employers would be banned from prohibiting workers from concealing guns in their locked vehicles on company property, but employees must now carry a concealed-weapons permit to do so.

    The provision means only about 490,760 current permit holders could legally keep their guns at work, of an estimated six million gun owners in Florida, according to numbers from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and estimates from the NRA.

    There is no way for employers to determine who has a permit and who does not, however, since the information is exempted from public records laws, and the bill bans them from asking about it.

    ''This is light years away from what they originally asked for,'' bill opponent Adam Babington, director of coalitions and initiatives for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said, referring to the NRA.

    Marion Hammer, a Florida-based spokeswoman for the gun rights organization, said the permit requirement was indeed unwelcome, ''but at least [the bill] provides a mechanism for employees to be able to protect themselves traveling to and from work without being harassed or abused by anti-gun employers.'' She would not comment on speculation the organization will return next year with a bill to encompass a larger range of gun owners.

    Over the past several years, the NRA has been waging a nationwide campaign to pass similar laws in other states; Georgia lawmakers voted last week to send a similar measure to their governor for signing.

    Business groups have heatedly opposed the bill on the grounds it impinges on their private property rights and their ability to lay the ground rules for employment.

    ''This makes no sense to me, why you would take away the property and management rights of businesses,'' said Rick McAllister, president and chief executive of the Florida Retail Federation. ``This is not about guns.''

    The Florida AFL-CIO, which emerged last year as the NRA's proverbial bedfellow on the issue, agreed on that much, though for different reasons.

    ''We do not believe that private business owners have the right to force their employees or their patrons to give up traditionally protected rights simply to have a job or buy groceries,'' said Rich Templin, a spokesman for the state's chapter of the AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions.

    In debating the bill Wednesday, some senators expressed concern about the safety of employees.

    ''A person should be secure in their place of employment to know that someone won't run out to their car and get their weapon and perhaps inflict danger upon . . . anyone who happens to be there,'' said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

    Election year politics may have played a role in the bill's swift passage, some observers said, as Republicans look to engage the party's base that holds dear the right to bear arms.

    Although opponents say they were no less adamant in their opposition to the bill this session, they were perhaps less demonstrative. Gone were the press conferences unveiling television commercials and polls showing public opposition. The Florida Retail Federation last year filled up a car in front of its Tallahassee offices with guns and other materials to highlight the dangers of allowing employees take them to work.

    McAllister said this year there wasn't much of a point.

    ''We were told early on by House and Senate leadership they were going to pass this bill,'' McAllister said.

    Babington, of the Florida Chamber, said other imperatives, such as property tax reform and budget cuts, had taken legislative priority.
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