Gun, Private Property Advocates at Odds over Bill; LEGISLATION: HB 89 Would Prohibit Businesses from Restricting Employees' Guns in Vehicles on Company-Owned Lots. LOBBYISTS: The President of the NRA Came to Support It; the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Encourages Opposition

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Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - A debate over whether workers can keep guns in their cars on the job brought the president of the National Rifle Association to Georgia for a news conference where he was heckled by one of his own members.

The issue pits two powerful lobbying groups - the NRA and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce - against one another over the question of which right is more important: private property or bearing arms.

NRA President Wayne LaPierre said his organization's support of House Bill 89 wasn't in opposition to private property rights. Instead, he said it's a reaction to a movement sweeping the country by gun-control advocates seeking to impose restrictions by encouraging employers to enact rules prohibiting guns in vehicles on company-owned lots.

HB 89 would prohibit businesses from imposing those rules in Georgia.

"So in effect, this [kind of company rule] is a wrecking ball for the Second Amendment," he said, referring to the U.S. constitutional amendment granting the right to bear arms. "It's also a blueprint for totally eviscerating and nullifying right-to-carry legislation in 38 states in our country, and takes away the right of a lot of these second- and third-shift workers to protect themselves because some rich, corporate lawyer has decided that they want to impose this type of policy."

While he was speaking, he was taunted by Bob Thornton of Arnoldsville, Ga., who described himself as a longtime NRA member. Afterward, Thornton told reporters the NRA was trying to quiet dissent among the community of gun owners who oppose the bill because they want to control their own land. …