November 21, 2008 l Download PDF
The rifle association continues to propose sweeping legislation that strips property owners of their private property rights. Commonly referred to as “Guns At Work,” this legislation would make it illegal for businesses and other private property owners to have policies prohibiting firearms on their private property. “Guns At Work” legislation eliminates a fundamental right of every private property owner provided for by the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution and the Florida Statutes.
Claiming that the Second Amendment trumps all other rights, the rifle association is participating in a campaign to pass “Guns At Work” legislation across the country. Setting aside the rhetoric, the key policy question is this: Should business owners be able to decide if employees are allowed to bring a gun on a business’ private property? We believe private property owners have the responsibility to make this decision. After all, they can be sued for accidents and injuries occurring on their private property, even if committed by a criminal.
Businesses and their employees have been deciding this issue for themselves for hundreds of years and now, shockingly, the rifle association wants government to decide for us. The rifle association’s national campaign is a direct assault on the employer-employee relationship. Individual businesses and their employees should be allowed to decide what is best for their home and their workplace — just like they do now. The “Guns At Work” legislation creates a new right that does not exist and wrongly strips private
property rights from millions of Floridians, creates unnecessary government intrusion into basic property rights afforded by the Constitution and is a big-government solution in search of a problem.
No matter what proponents suggest, private property rights are the basis of the original Bill of Rights and should be jealously guarded and protected, particularly when we contemplate giving this fundamental right to government. While supporters of this legislation say employers are violating employees’ Second Amendment rights to carry a gun, they forget to mention one basic fact — the Second Amendment was written to protect the private citizen from government intrusion. Moreover, in the
context of employment, it is clear that employees may agree, as a condition of employment, to various policies waiving a wide variety of rights, e.g., policies on drug testing, manner of dress, political speech, etc. This is true because, as a general rule, the constitutional rights at issue are rights protected against intrusion by the government, not by private actors.
The Florida Chamber opposes government intrusion into the private property rights of Florida employers.