June 2006

Downrange: 06/06

YET ANOTHER WAY TO BAN GUNS

Some Florida businesses are getting around state carry laws, as well as Constitutional principles, by trying to ban guns in cars.

In Florida, some businesses are banning firearms in their parking lots. Some are even searching private vehicles that park in parking lots that are open to the public. These gun-ban policies are discrimination against people who chose to exercise a constitutional right and take responsibility for their own safety.

A Florida House measure, HB 129, would prohibit employers from having a policy to prohibit firearms in vehicles on the employer’s property. It would be a third-degree felony for the employer to have such a policy.

The bill’s not guaranteed to pass, even in a pro-gun state like Florida. A variety of opponents to the bill are raising questions about its reach, including the Florida Chamber and the state’s Retail Association. They’re framing the issue as a property-rights question.

Also, bureaucrats in many companies want their say in restricting your rights. For instance, Suzanne Weiss, legislative chair for a state association of human-resource professionals, has written, “An employer should have the right to say if weapons should be on his property without being charged with a felony. This is about the property rights of the employer that [sic] owns the property and their [sic] ability to say, ‘No, I choose not to have weapons accessible on my property.’ Along with the property rights of the employer being overlooked in this bill, there are safety issues to the workforce to consider.”

In our view, the constitutional right to self-protection trumps any company’s property rights.

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ARIZONA SELF-DEFENSE LAWS STRENGTHENED

Gov. Janet Napolitano recently signed a bill that strengthened residents’ ability to use force against intruders. The bill, SB1145, imposes a new burden of proof on prosecutors to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant’s self-defense claim was unfounded. It also implants in Arizona law the “castle doctrine” that gives a person the right to use force against an intruder without having to retreat. Before the bill passed, citizens who were forced by an attacker to act in self-defense were presumed guilty until they proved their innocence in court by a preponderance of the evidence, said NRA President Sandy Froman, a Tucson lawyer.

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LOUISIANA BILL FORBIDS GUN CONFISCATIONS

Louisiana House Bill 760 would forbid law enforcement from confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens during times of civil disorder. The state house passed the measure unanimously in April.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said police officers from New Orleans used Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s emergency declaration as its legal basis to seize firearms. “It happened hundreds and hundreds of times,” Scalise said. The measure still has to clear the state senate and get Blanco’s signature to become law.

-Todd Woodard