search
top

More On Employers & Guns

Readers have made some really thoughtful and persuasive comments on my last post about the Texas bill that would force employers to allow employees to keep guns in their vehicles on company property. Persuasive to me because I do agree that it’s absolutely silly for a workplace to have a policy on guns with an aim to prevent workplace violence, but I’m afraid I still have to come out against these laws.

I think there’s a distinction to between discrimination because of someone’s race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion, which people largely are born as and have little control over, and discrimination based on specific behavior, even if that behavior is generally protected from interference by government.

It’s true that employers are preventing employees from exercising a right, but employers are generally free to do this. Employers may dictate how you dress, what time you come to work, what you may or may not say on behalf of the company, what you can or can’t say in the workplace or to customers. They may do things like forbidding you from talking about your political views with clients. They may prevent you from handing out religious leaflets, running prayer groups during business hours, etc. You could be fired for saying something negative about the CEO. These things are all ingfringing on some fundamental rights that, if we were talking governmental action, would be prohibited by the constitution.

But we’ve generally accepted that, with a few exceptions for race, gender, age, and a few other types of discrimination, that employee employer relationship are private relationships governed by rules and standards of behavior agreed to by both parties for their mutual benefit, and both parties are allowed to terminate that agreement when the benefit is no longer mutual. I accept the government meddling in this agreement, even for the case of racial discrimination, very reluctantly, and I am not inclined to accept more government interference in private relationships, especially one that comes down to a matter of behavior, and not characteristics that people are born with. I am a strong believer in the “employment at will” doctrine, where either party can terminate employment when they no longer find it beneficial.

As a believer in liberty, free from undue interference from government in private affairs, I can’t accept much in the way of restrictions placed on private relationships between employers and employees. If we can force employers to accept guns on their property, we can force them to accept speech that the company does not wish to accept, or force them to accommodate religious preferences, like cab drivers refusing to pick up fares with alcohol, or cashiers refusing to ring up pork products. I am very reluctant to accept more government interference into private relationships, even if it would benefit me personally.

I am not saying this lightly. I can assure you that no employer will ever search my car or my person. My car is my property, and I will never offer my consent for an employer to have access to it. I absolutely accept this might get me fired. It’s my right to refuse this. If my employer damages my property, he is liable. If he interferes with my person, he is liable. I have a right to refuse my employer interfering with my person or property, but he absolutely has a right to discontinue the relationship for my violation of that private covenant.

There are many things about employment I don’t like. I wish I could say whatever I want without consequence, wear my “Peace Through Superior Firepower” t-shirt in meetings with clients. I wish everyone I knew at work would be comfortable with me carrying a firearm on me, and talking about what my favorite carry guns are. But that’s not the case, and I accept I could be fired for both activities.

I don’t think government can help us out much in our private relationships with others. In that realm we’re stuck with using persuasion, and trying to educate people that gun owners, and people who lawfully carry guns for self-defense, aren’t irresponsible and dangerous whack jobs who are going to instigate workplace violence incidents. But bringing more government into the situation just opens the door to a lot of unpleasant restrictions on private behavior that I’m just not willing to accept.  I guess when it comes to this stuff, I’m a libertarian first, and a gun owner second.  I hope you all don’t find that too terribly disappointing.

11 Responses to “More On Employers & Guns”

  1. Sailorcurt says:

    I agree with you completely…and have been thoroughly (but politely) excoriated on other blogs for saying so.

    I think that we cannot selectively decide to ignore an employers property rights while insisting that our self-defense rights are inviolable. If we insist upon undermining one right, we set a precedent for the undermining of others which we hold dear.

    “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates his duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
    –Thomas Paine

    However, I have a solution:

    We should advocate laws that set assign some responsibilities for anti-gun employers.

    Employers that do not allow firearms on the property should be either:

    a: Required to provide secure firearm storage facilities either on the property or within “x” feet of the entrance to the property.

    or

    b: Be specifically held liable for loss, damages, medical bills and pain and suffering incident to any criminal act occurring to an employee who is disarmed as a result of the company policy.

    In other words, if I have no place to store my firearm at work you are disarming me not only at work, but during travel to and from work as well. If I am robbed, carjacked, assaulted etc. at any time while disarmed due to transit to and from work, the company should specifically be held liable for that incident.

    I think that would entice many otherwise reticent companies to re-consider the potential costs of their bigoted stances.

    What do you think?

  2. Sebastian says:

    An interesting idea Sailorcurt, and I’m happy at least someone agrees with me :) But it’s still putting the government into a private relationship, because they’re demanding the employer provide the employee with something the employer doesn’t wish to allow, even if they were to lease the property. I’m sympathetic to the notion that it disarms you to and from work though.

    That’s making me think this is less about property rights for me, so much as it is about believing the government shouldn’t regulate private relationships between parties. It’s one thing if a contract is in dispute, and the parties ask the government to resolve it. It’s another thing for the government to force a relationship to continue if one party is no longer willing.

  3. MichaelG says:

    Sebastian, your extrapalation to cabbies and cashiers is not appropriate because that behavior affects the job they were hired to do. Same is true for your clothing example when your job exposes you to the company’s external contacts. You have not yet provided a reasoning that shows how securing a firearm in a personal vehicle should/could affect my ability to do the work the employer is paying me for. I understand the employment at will, all to well. I’m a consultant. I’m all for reducing government interference in personal relationships, including those between employer-employee. But I argue still that if there is to be any government interference to protect people than it should be first based on Constitutionally enumerated rights, then the slippery and litigous prone unenumerated rights. And stop there. In my libertarian world :) government power, when not constrained by constitutional limits, should be used to deter economic bullying. In all directions.

    Additionally you wrote “… especially one that comes down to a matter of behavior, and not characteristics that people are born with.”
    But the RKBA is something that we are born with. I’ll presume that you just weren’t thinking that through when typing. So far you’re not convincing me that the property rights of employers are trumping yet.

  4. Alcibiades says:

    I believe the right already exists. After all, a consumer at a McDonald’s can keep a gun locked in their car (not in a GFW state, of course). Why should the business care if it’s an employee? Businesses can have “no gun” signs, but I believe that only applies to entering their buildings, not their parking lots.

    (Of course, there is the argument that a gated, guarded parking lot isn’t “public”, so there may be something to it.)

    This law balances the rights of the employee and the employer. The employers’ rights are not being trampled upon. If the employer was being forced to accept guns in their work area (office building or the like) then I would be outraged, but not in the parking lot.

  5. Sebastian says:

    McDonald’s would, if they knew the gun was there and didn’t want it to be, ask you to take your vehicle off their property. If you failed to comply, they could have it towed at your expense, or call the police to charge you with trespassing. Similarly, an employer can terminate their relationship with you if you’ve done something to displease them.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Sebastian, your extrapalation to cabbies and cashiers is not appropriate because that behavior affects the job they were hired to do. Same is true for your clothing example when your job exposes you to the company’s external contacts. You have not yet provided a reasoning that shows how securing a firearm in a personal vehicle should/could affect my ability to do the work the employer is paying me for.

    You won’t get any argument from me about that. If I am an employer, I will encourage my employees to carry to work. But an HR weenie can come up with all kinds of excuses, most of them total shit. It’s a persuasive argument that it has no bearing on quality of work and poses no hazard to the company or fellow employees. I don’t need to be persuaded of that because I believe it. But what you’re talking about is the government coming in and forcing your employer to associate with you under terms dictated by the government that your employer doesn’t want to be a party to. I’ve heard stories of employees of auto companies not being able to park their car on the property if it wasn’t American made, which I think is equally silly, but it’s also I think within the employers rights to do so. There’s a lot of decisions that get made in a corporate environment that have no impact at all on people’s work, that we comply with so we can continue working. I’ve quit more than one job because the bullshit just got too thick for me. In theory at least, employment is a voluntary relationship between two parties.

  7. straightarrow says:

    I post your words here; “It’s true that employers are preventing employees from exercising a right, but employers are generally free to do this. Employers may dictate how you dress, what time you come to work, what you may or may not say on behalf of the company, what you can or can’t say in the workplace or to customers. They may do things like forbidding you from talking about your political views with clients. They may prevent you from handing out religious leaflets, running prayer groups during business hours, etc. You could be fired for saying something negative about the CEO. These things are all ingfringing on some fundamental rights that, if we were talking governmental action, would be prohibited by the constitution.”

    Now, I’ll tell you why you are wrong. When you are working for the employer, you have sold him that time. It is his. He has paid for it and he can determine how you use it, and how you represent him. He has rented your time and talent. He did not buy you.

    The defense of the employer that he has already denied you certain rights is not true, therefore another denial won’t be unique, just isn’t true. He didn’t rent or buy your home, your car, your travel to and from work. If he had, he would bear responsibility for your security as he does in his place of employment, but so often fails to provide.

    More to follow

  8. Sebastian says:

    I see where you’re coming from Straigharrow, but does that mean the government can force the employer to keep purchasing your time when he no longer wishes to? I don’t deny that your person and your vehicle are your property, that is why you can properly refuse an employer to search you. If he restrains you and does it anyway, that’s a crime, punishable by law, and properly ought to be. But what we’re talking about is the government forcing the employer to keep a relationship with someone that they would like to terminate, even though the employee might have violated a condition the employer sets on continued employment.

    Like I said, I might think it’s stupid and dumb, but employers hold their employees to a lot of things that are stupid and dumb.

    I’m not unsympathetic to this issue, but I think there are carrot and stick ways to accomplish the goal, through manipulating torts and such, that wouldn’t infringe on either the employer’s property rights, or the private relationship between employers and employees.

  9. straightarrow says:

    The searches you have alluded to above have happened without permission and/or even knowledge of the employee. I think they are illegal, you think they are illegal, but guess what? No employer has been charged with any crime or misdemeanor for it.

    Weyerhauser, I believe it was did such by getting the aid of the sheriff’s department to do the search with drug dogs. Their stated rationale was a search for drugs. Of course, as you know drug dogs are trained to alert on drugs, guns, and car bumpers. So, in effect every car was searched illegally. No drugs were found, but guns were, most were deer rifles in expectation of the opening of deer season the next day or at any event, very shortly. Those employees were fired, the sheriff was pissed at being used that way, and the employer suffered no damages for his illegal searches. Of course, he had good cover, he had involved law enforcement under false pretenses, who were all too willing to violate the rights of the employees as a part of the unconstitutional permissions they have under the guise of the War on Drugs.

    Google it, it took place in Valiant, Ok. Not the only abuse by a damn sight, but one of the more recent.

    I am not in favor of government force. However, if they will not protect my rights from violation by another private citiizen, could they at least not prosecute me when I do. You suggest government should be neutral on this. I could live with that, though I don’t think it appropriate. But, the fact is, they are not neutral. Government will take a hand if you assert your rights through force. Employers and others who would violate you know this. Ergo, they do all they can to enslave you, leaving you only force with which to reply or subjugation of your person and surrender of your rights as a free man. They are banking on the non-neutrality of government to aid them in their depredations of the rights of others.

    Since government involvement is thus inevitable, it should be exercised in defense of the Constitution and the Constitutional rights of the citizen, and against the citizens or groups of citizens who would strip others of those rights.

    I have had policemen tell me to “Shut up.” As it happened, it was a situation where I had been accused of running someone off the road. I had said “Officer, I wasn’t even on that road, and I can prove it.” I was enraged, not because he accused me of the crime, he was doing what he thought he should when he stopped me. I was enraged because he would take from me my right to speak, my right to speak in my defense, and that he was trying to establish higher order of citizenship than I enjoyed.

    I told him ” You better be a Hell of lot tougher than you look, or you better be damn quick with that gun, if you speak to me like that again.” And I wasn’t kidding. I also know how deadly something like that can be and I had elected him to lose if I could make it happen. I was unarmed, but he was close. Don’t know how it would have turned out because just at that moment he got a call that they had caught the guy and needed his help right away. He never said a word, just turned got in his car and peeled out. He should have apologized. I’m mad just thinking about it.

    The point of the above is this; I won’t tolerate an armed man stripping me of my citizenship by violating my rights, I sure as Hell won’t tolerate it from a sonofabitch that has to hire it done. I admit this is not something I invented, it is not in any way original with me. There was a time when all or almost all American men felt that way. When that was still true, we didn’t have to fight for return of a portion of our rights, nor did we need permission to exercise a right (oxymoronic statement, I know).

    That belief system worked and worked well. The successive belief systems have not worked for the preservation of liberty. I choose the earlier philosophies of the better men who were our forebears. If the majority of us did, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we?

  10. Sebastian says:

    You all make some very good points. Truth be told, I’m tired of talking about it. I don’t plan on actively trying to derail any of these bills, and I won’t cry that much if they end up passing. The case that happened in Oklahoma was awful, and it’s clear to me that Weyerhauser does not respect or value it’s employees. But they have a right to be stupid, and a right to be assholes if they choose to be.

    http://www.nrapublications.org/first%20freedom/Conoco.asp

    That’s an account of the incident. It looks like people who refused the search were summarily fired, and a few volunteered that they had pistols in their vehicles. Weyerhauser does not deserve to have anyone work for them, and I certainly never would if that’s how they treat their employees. No one should ever give an employer permission to search your vehicle. But the government should still stay out of it.

  11. straightarrow says:

    except government won’t. So they should at least do right.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Snowflakes in Hell » Not Bad Press - [...] definitely not the NRA lapdogs the press and Brady Campaign would make us out to be (as my position…
  2. SayUncle » I’m gonna go ahead and disagree - [...] they’re pushing a bill that force employers to allow employees to keep weapons in their car. Sebastian says that’s…
top