National Rifle Association Files Lawsuit Against Florida
Following SB 7026 being signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida opposing the ban on firearm purchases by individuals under the age of 21.
Business United Against Guns at Work Legislation, No Compromise Reached
Did You Know the NRA is on the Attack Again?
NRA Bullies Legislators to End Employment at Will
April 26, 2007
Free enterprise is under attack in Florida from an unlikely group. After years of pushing for less government, individual responsibility and free enterprise, the National Rifle Association now seeks to undermine Florida’s employment at will doctrine. If HB 1417/SB 2356 passes, Florida will experience an increase in workplace-related litigation, and businesses will be deprived of their right to manage their employees.
In Florida, employees are free to quit their jobs for any reason, and employers have the right to terminate employees at any time for any reason as well. This is known as “employment at will.” The employment at will concept protects Florida businesses from frivolous lawsuits alleging they did not have “just cause” to fire an employee. The Legislature can create exceptions to employment at will for protected classes, and has done so with regard to race, sex, and national origin.
This bill creates a new protected class of employees, and shields them from termination or even discipline for a range of conduct. Who would be in this new protected class? Here are just a few examples:
- An employee with an AK-47 chained to his or her motorcycle;
- Daycare employees with sexually explicit pictures on the dash boards of their cars; • An employee with an Adolf Hitler poster in his rear windshield;
- Employees carrying hazardous chemicals in their vehicles.
The NRA wrote this legislation to be so broad that this new protected class includes nearly anyone on the business’s property. And even if the racist, anti-Semitic, or pornographic material offends another employee, this bill prohibits the employer from taking any disciplinary action. Furthermore, an employer would even be banned from searching an employee’s car if the employer believes the employee has stolen something from the business.
A business’s right to set reasonable working conditions would be stripped away by this legislation. If an employee agreed with a business that certain materials were hazardous or offensive and not appropriate for the workplace, this bill would invalidate that agreement. The business would no longer have control over its workplace or conditions of employment.
This legislation bans zero tolerance policies on violence, causing employers to lose the right to discipline employees for fighting. In the event of a fight between employees, a business would be required to try to determine which employee started the fight, and which employee was engaging in self-defense. The employee that the business believed started the fight could then sue his employer, taking every personnel decision in Florida out of the hands of the business and into courtrooms across the state.
This bill in fact gives every terminated or disciplined employee in Florida a new cause of action for suing his or her employer. Harassment, fighting, and contraband will be protected under law, while businesses will suffer an erosion of their rights and an onslaught of litigation. HB 1417/SB 2356 is an attack on businesses and free enterprise, and an assault on common sense.
House Panel Defeats Gun Bill as NRA Vows to Try Again
April 19, 2007, The Palm Beach Post
TALLAHASSEE — Two days after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, a Florida House council took the unusual step – at least in recent years – of killing a pro-gun bill.
The measure, which would let people keep guns in their cars at work, was forcing Republican lawmakers to choose sides between two interests they often support: the gun lobby and the business community. On Wednesday, as advocates nationwide ramped up demands for more gun control, members of the House Environment and Natural Resources Council were forced to vote on a measure variously known as the “Take Your Gun to Work” bill and the Individual Personal Privacy Protection Act.
Council members voted 10-4 against the bill (HB 1417), which would have allowed gun owners to keep their weapons locked out of sight in their vehicles in their employers’ parking lots or on other properties, such as shopping malls and convenience stores.
State law allows employers and businesses to establish policies banning guns from their property.
A similar Senate bill had been approved in two recent committees by votes of 7-1 and 8-3 and was ready for the Senate floor. But now the House can’t take it up, which means it won’t pass this session.
Mark Wilson, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest business lobbies opposing the bill, said after the vote that his organization made a decision not to bring the massacre into the discussion.
”That just wasn’t going to be part of the debate,” Wilson said.
Only one person spoke Wednesday about the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 dead- and that was in an effort to delay the vote – but it obviously resonated.
“All anyone has to do today is turn on CNN,” said Rep. Baxter Troutman, R-Winter Haven, vice chairman of the council. “I just think this subject today … is highly inappropriate.”
But the council chairman, Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, required the vote.
”The people in your district expect you to do your job,” he said. ”And part of your job is to vote on difficult issues and sometimes that’s hard to avoid.”
Mayfield and Troutman voted against the bill.
Troutman, who said he is a hunter, represents a district that includes the Lakeland home of Publix Supermarkets, Florida’s largest employer, whose officers lobbied against the bill. He called the decision one of his most difficult.
“I felt like I had a foot on two sinking logs, or rising logs, however you want to look at it,” he said. “We’re sent up here to make hard decisions. Clearly, today was one of those days.”
National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said the bill was necessary to give employees the ability to protect themselves during their commutes. Asked whether the Virginia Tech tragedy influenced the vote, Hammer said she didn’t know.
”It should not. Nothing in this bill has anything at all to do with the sort of thing that happened in Virginia,” she said.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, the bill’s sponsor who failed to shepherd a similar bill to passage last year, said the Virginia shootings may have “helped people sharpen their views about whether they were, like me, concerned about people’s defenselessness or they were just concerned about violence in general in the country.”
But Baxley, R-Ocala, said the vote more likely resulted from “the money in the room,” a reference to the lobbyists for businesses opposed to the bill.
Gov. Charlie Crist said the Virginia shootings should “not be used for directing policy” in Florida, but he said it would be difficult to separate the two.
”How can you not be impacted at least in some way, as horrific a tragedy that was in our country?” Crist said.
The NRA historically has been effective in the Florida Legislature. It successfully pushed a law two years ago, for example, that removed a person’s duty to retreat when attacked in a public place.
But Wednesday was not the first time lawmakers killed an NRA-backed bill in the aftermath of a tragedy involving guns. Days after the Columbine high school shootings in 1999, former House Speaker John Thrasher retreated from pushing a bill that would have banned counties and cities from suing gun manufacturers.
An expanded version of that bill passed later.
After the vote, Wilson, of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, tried to shake Hammer’s hand.
“Lock and load,” Hammer said. “We’ll be back.”
Statewide Poll Shows Floridians Strongly Oppose ‘Guns at Work’ Bill
Voters, Including Hunters, Against Legislation Requiring Guns on Company Property
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 16, 2007) —The Florida Chamber of Commerce today released a statewide poll that reveals Florida voters and gun owners are opposed to the ‘Guns at Work’ legislation currently being considered by the Florida legislature.
“Business owners, hunters, and voters alike are opposed to any bill that allows employees to bring guns locked in their car on company property,” said Marian Johnson, vice president of political strategy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Floridians agree that the current law should be kept allowing businesses to decide what comes on their property.
Eighty percent of Florida voters agreed that businesses and homeowners should decide what things are brought onto their property. And Fifty-six percent believe business owners should be able to prohibit employees from having a gun locked in their car on company property.
Other results of the Chamber’s polling include:
• Fifty-five percent oppose with forty-one percent strongly opposing a bill that would require employers to allow employees to bring guns to work that are locked in their cars. Only 36 percent total support this bill.
• Fifty-four percent would feel safer if their employer prohibited employees from bringing guns in their cars.
“Florida voters feel safer when businesses are deciding the terms of their property, not government,” said Mark Wilson, executive vice president for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Floridians recognize the importance of private property rights and trust the Florida Chamber over the NRA on this issue, even among those who own concealed weapon permits.”
On deciding whom to trust on issues, the poll also revealed that concealed weapon permit owners trust the Florida Chamber (forty-two percent) over groups like the NRA (twenty-four percent). Among hunters, the Chamber gets forty-eight percent versus thirty percent for the NRA.
The poll was conducted by Tel Opinion Research, April 9-10, 2007. The poll was of 600 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.