Academic journal article Southern Law Journal

The Employer's Conundrum of Firearms and Parking Lots

Academic journal article Southern Law Journal

The Employer's Conundrum of Firearms and Parking Lots

Article excerpt

[A]according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1997 and 2010, there were a total of 8,666 occupational homicides, of which 1,512 involved a work associate killing a coworker or former coworker (n = 894), or a customer or client (n = 618), followed by relatives (n = 311), and lastly other personal acquaintances (n = 323). With respect to gun use, of the 8,666 homicides, 6,850 were shot, including 639 who were shot by a work associate, 389 shot by a customer/client, 250 shot by a relative, and 266 shot by a personal acquaintance. Hence, a vast majority of all homicides involved gun use.1

In recent years a move has been fostered by gun supporters to statutorily allow the possession of firearms, and in particular handguns, in both public and private parking lots. In October of 2013 the Wall Street Journal noted, relying on information from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, that twenty-two states had implemented such parking lot statutes. States where these bring your gun to work laws have yet to be passed are likely to see proposals to enact similar statutes during upcoming legislative sessions. The gun supporters point to both the Second Amendment and to increased personal safety of those, primarily employees, who wish to have a firearm present for personal protection when traveling to and from the employer's business site. Some employers have expressed concern that having firearms easily accessible by employees detracts from premises safety in that it increases the probability of an anger fueled, or spontaneous shooting incident. Specifically, those employers implead violation of the concept of the right of owners' of property to dictate the conduct of others when upon their premises. Both gun supporters and gun control advocates put forth personal safety as a rationale, as well as legal standing. This paper considers case law dealing with the respective positions, the current statutory enactments, and concerns and strategies for human resource manager and employers.

I. Background

A. The Second Amendment

A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.2 3

Recently the Supreme Court, in Heller v. District of Columbia, 3 has recognized that the Second Amendment does guarantee the right to bear arms for individuals;4 there is no required connection to military service.5 The Court explained that the right covers any use of arms reasonably necessary for self-defense, including, but not limited to handguns, as long as they are not "dangerous and unusual weapons." The Court held that the Second Amendment confers on individuals the right to keep and bear arms; state statutes banning handgun possession in the home violate the Second Amendment. It has been anticipated that the Heller decision will "impact the proliferation" of take your gun work laws.6

Heller began in 1976 with a citizen's objection to a gun control law in the District of Columbia. The law "banned the possession of handguns and required that all firearms kept in the home be trigger-locked or disassembled."7 The Court found the D.C. gun control law to be in direct violation of the Second Amendment.8 "To that end, the Heller court ultimately established that statutes which prohibit an operable firearm in the home for self-defense violate an individual's right to bear arms."9

However, this Second Amendment right is not without limit. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, specified that the Second Amendment does not confer a "right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."10 The majority opinion is not intended to cast doubt on state and federal laws that limit gun rights. Felons and the mentally are still prohibited from possessing firearms;* 11 firearms are still prohibited in certain locations such as schools and government buildings;12 restrictions on the sale of firearms continue to exist. …

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