GA: Gun law won't turn sites into O.K. Corrals

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Malum Prohibitum, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Oft-repeated advice from veteran trial lawyers to the novice barrister: "If the facts aren't on your side, argue the law; if the law's not on your side, argue the facts."

    To that lawyer's proverb might be added a corollary — "if you have neither the law nor the facts on your side, then just scare the heck out of people."

    Gun opponents in Georgia and a number of other states are shamelessly employing fear as a substitute to facts and the law, in an effort to defeat legislation that would do nothing more than protect the right of a law-abiding citizen to maintain a firearm in his or her locked, private vehicle.

    With any piece of federal or state legislation, the best place to start acquainting oneself with the subject matter thereof is to read the bill itself, though critics often overlook this important first step. Thus it is with Senate Bill 43, a bill introduced in January by state Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) with co-sponsors that include Senate Majority Leader Eric Johnson (R-Savannah). The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in February by a 4-to-1 margin. It is neither drastic nor extreme.

    For example, the legislation applies only in very limited circumstances. It simply would prevent an employer from stopping any of its employees from keeping a lawful firearm in his or her locked vehicle while parked in an employee parking lot or garage that is open to the public. Parking lots not open to the public or those connected with a Defense Department contractor or the military, would not be covered by the legislation. Despite the extremely modest nature of the legislation, however, opponents such as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce are characterizing the measure as an all-out assault on private property rights in Georgia; one that will also virtually destroy the powers of Georgia's many employers.

    Other opponents, such as members of the Newnan-Peachtree City Area Employer Committee, are trying to convince legislators that enactment of SB 43 would turn employee parking lots into "dangerous" and "terribly unsafe" no-man's lands, akin to modern-day O.K. Corrals. One member of another fearful organization, the Georgia Employer Committee, has threatened to enlist the bureaucrats at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to assist in trying to defeat the legislation.

    Leaving aside for the moment the fact that OSHA has no jurisdiction over whether the employee of a private company possesses a firearm in their personal vehicle, the Constitution of the United States, the law and the facts relevant to employee parking lot safety, are all on the side of the proponents of SB 43.

    First, the Constitution. The Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to possess firearms. While states and the federal government have over the years placed certain limitations on the exercise of this Second Amendment right, there is no exception for "parking lots." The Amendment reflects a fundamental human right to protect oneself, if one so chooses, by possessing a firearm; many Georgia drivers do just that.

    Next, the law. Georgia law clearly recognizes the right of a person in this state to keep a firearm in their motor vehicle. Our state is hardly alone in this respect; every state allows transportation of firearms for lawful purposes in vehicles. Federal law explicitly protects the right of a person to transport a firearm in a vehicle across state lines. Georgia and almost every other state protect the right to possess firearms for self-defense. Should a private employer be allowed arbitrarily to trump such laws?

    Finally, the facts. Shootings in workplace parking lots are extremely rare, and gun crimes in the workplace are almost always committed by non-employees and usually in the commission of a robbery. The small percentage committed by current or former employees in almost every instance could not or would not have been prevented by a workplace restriction on firearms inside locked vehicles.

    Even if SB 43 becomes law, the sky is not going to fall in on Georgia employers seeking legitimately to maintain a safe workplace. The legislation affords no protection to anyone taking a firearm out of a vehicle and carrying it into the workplace; and in fact, it interferes not one bit with an employer's power to prevent an employee otherwise restricted from possessing a firearm or under disciplinary action from bringing a firearm onto the parking lot.

    Georgia employers would be well-served to quit worrying about the law-abiding employee who might have a hunting rifle or a handgun for self-defense locked in their car, and pay closer attention to the quality of employee they hire and to supporting good law enforcement in their communities.

    • Former congressman and U.S. attorney Bob Barr practices law in Atlanta. He is a board member of the National Rifle Association.
     
  2. Taler

    Taler New Member

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    I've begun to wonder, since we have property rights issues raised, whether an alternative might be worthwhile, if the bill doesn't pass this year.

    How about having a bill in parellel that clearly states that business owners who deny carry in parking lots are totally liable for the safety of their employees while traveling to and from work? The employer pays for everything, should an incident occur on/in the commute, including legal fees of the person harmed. Include every mode of travel, including personal vehicle, company vehicle, and public transportation.

    Respect the "property rights" but see what the insurance companies have to say about accepting the liablity of safety.
     

  3. Watch_Their_Hands

    Watch_Their_Hands New Member

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    MP~, when I click on the link my email opens up rather than the article.
     
  4. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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  5. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    I've heard this advice stated before as: "If the law's on your side, pound the law; if the facts are on your side, pounds the facts; if neither is on your side, pound the table."
     
  6. Watch_Their_Hands

    Watch_Their_Hands New Member

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    I am sending a letter to the editor for publication. I will let you know what comes of it.
     
  7. Watch_Their_Hands

    Watch_Their_Hands New Member

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    Here is the letter.

    Concerning Senate Bill 43 (keeping a lawful firearm in his or her locked vehicle while parked in an employee parking lot or garage that is open to the public), it greatly disappoints me to see fear being used to sway public opinion against the rights of legal Georgia gun owners. One need not worry about law-abiding citizens carrying a gun in their vehicles; they legally exercise their right to carry a firearm.

    Instead, should not we worry about the person that waits in the parking lot at the opening or closing time of a business, ready to steal one's property, injure or perhaps take the life of, someone that is trying to exit or enter their vehicle?

    Part of everyone's responsibility is to protect themselves. We must stop chipping away at our Second Amendment rights. Please, read Senate Bill 43, then make an informed opinion based on fact.

    I kept to their 150 word requirement, although it was difficult... :evil:
     
  8. Watch_Their_Hands

    Watch_Their_Hands New Member

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    I just received a phone call from AJC. My letter to the editor will be published in print and online Sat. the 17th. I believe in the opinion column, not exactly sure. They will be publishing my bio, I think, along with the letter. Maybe that helped...
     
  9. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Grassroots activism at work.
     
  10. Taler

    Taler New Member

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    Way to go, W_T_H !
     
  11. Watch_Their_Hands

    Watch_Their_Hands New Member

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    Thanks, Talor. I followed your advice. :wink: