NRA, Chamber Square Off On Guns In Cars
March 27, 2007; By Kevin Begos
TALLAHASSEE - Heading off to work? There soon may be no need to worry about the windshield note promoting membership in the Aryan Nations, the copy of Hustler on the front seat or the five rifles (one with bayonet) and two handguns strewn about the car. Under proposed legislation, anything that's legal to own at home could stay in your car at work, too - and the Florida Chamber of Commerce doesn't like that idea at all.
It's round two of a showdown that saw the business community and the National Rifle Association bitterly at odds last year.
The core issue is whether employees have the right to keep legal firearms locked in cars parked at the workplace. This year, the bill adds all legal personal private property - including, in theory,pornography or racist literature.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, says he originally wanted to make it clear that employees can keep legal or
licensed weapons in their cars and that it never was about taking a weapon to the workplace.
One thing everyone agrees on is that the revised version of the bill didn't calm opponents. In fact, it may have
made them angrier.
The bill title this year is "Relating to Individual Personal Private Property Protection." It states that "a citizen's
lawful possession, transportation, and secure keeping of certain private property within his or her motor vehicle
is essential to the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of
association, the free exercise of religion, and the right to keep and bear arms."
Monday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce announced a tongue-in-cheek "Bring Your Gun to Work
Day" and filled a car with weapons and other controversial, but legal, material.
"This bill is not about guns. This bill is a frontal assault on property rights," says chamber Executive
Vice President Mark Wilson, who sees it as a challenge to employers' fundamental right to set rules
governing their private property.
The constitutional rights of free speech and to bear arms take precedent, contends Marion Hammer, a lobbyist
who represents the NRA.
"People have these rights, and they are being violated by big business," Hammer said. She cited instances
where employees have been fired for having a gun locked in a car at work.
The bill has exemptions for schools, prisons and some high-security sites. Otherwise, employers would be
forbidden from penalizing or firing employees simply because they had legal material locked in cars parked on
Last year, numerous committee hearings resulted in a standoff between the NRA and the business community,
and the bill never reached a floor vote. Baxley hopes that changes.
"Give me a vote - up or down," he said, acknowledging that many of his colleagues would prefer not to do that.
Wilson said House and Senate leaders have told him that the bill is not a priority, and he agreed that many
don't like the idea of a public vote.
A Senate version of the bill is listed for committee discussion today.
SB 2356 will be heard by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee today. The House version, HB 1417, has not
been scheduled for a hearing yet.
SB 2356: Sponsor, Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, firstname.lastname@example.org (850) 689-0556.
HB 1417: Sponsor, Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, dennis.baxley@myflorida house.gov (850) 488-0335.
this would mean allot to me as my work place does not allow guns