A clash of rights

Guns-in-parking-lots bill still causing understandable concern
Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:32 AM

While the idea of a law that allows gun owners to store their weapons in their cars on their employers’ property even if the employer opposes it still causes much concern, there appears to be no stopping the National Rifle Association and its supportive legislators who are determined to see this bill passed in some form in 2013.

Gov. Bill Haslam has entered the fray with a compromise that may make the bill more acceptable, even if the whole idea still is out of favor with a significant number of people. Haslam says leaving college campuses out of the proposal may lead to an agreement on the bill.

The governor said he expects lawmakers to come up with a compromise on the law, which did not pass in 2012 after strong objections. The business lobby said it would intrude on their property rights. Gun advocates argue that banning guns in company parking lots prevents workers from being armed while they drive to and from their jobs.

It is a conundrum, for sure. It’s a clash between gun rights and property rights, and that’s why the measure failed to get enough votes to pass last year. Republicans are in charge of the Legislature, and yet a sufficient number of them weren’t willing to ignore the interests and concerns of the business community.

Haslam said his administration will fight to keep schools out of the final version. To his credit, he says the whole idea is “not one of the issues of primary importance to us in this session.”

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey will push for an early compromise on the measure in hopes of getting the divisive measure out of the way. Unlike the early drafts of last year’s bill, the new version would apply only to people with state-issued handgun carry permits. That’s another compromise that makes the bill at least a little more acceptable to concerned business owners.

It’s important to note the opposition to this bill. Higher education officials and campus police chiefs have spoken out against allowing guns on campus. Combined with the opposition of the business lobby, it makes for a strong level of discontent over a gun rights bill. That should be a sufficient warning that sometimes a blanket expansion of gun rights is simply not in the best interest of the citizens.