Texas Bill Undermining Property Rights

Via Jeff comes some new bills in Texas. The Castle Doctrine bill, which I support, is on its way to Rick Perry. The other bill has to do with forcing employers to allow concealed handguns onto their property which I do not support. Employers should have the power, as property owners, to regulate what is and what isn’t allowed on their property. I haven’t been pleased that the NRA has been pushing this stuff, because I don’t really appreciate them undermining property rights. Gun rights are important, but property rights are too, and I won’t support boosting one at the expense of the other.

To understand why employers do this, you have to get yourself inside the mind of the HR worms. Human Resources departments only really have a few functions, and one of their most important functions is to prevent the company from being sued, and most employers care a lot more about not being sued than they care about their employees lives. Some nut case comes in and starts shooting up the place? Well, that’s too bad, but they’ll be quick to drag that policy out to show they aren’t legally responsible for the incident, because, after all, they took reasonable steps to try to stop it. We know that’s total bunk, because it’s no one is going to bother to get a license to shoot his coworkers, but in the corporate world, much like in politics, it’s all about CYA, and the HR department, you can bet, isn’t going to care if you die because of workplace violence as long as they don’t get blamed for it.

So what can we do? I don’t think pissing all over the employer’s property rights, or more government regulation is the answer. Why don’t we address this through tort reform, so that companies aren’t liable for violent criminal acts committed by employees, or for negligence not related to one’s job duties? It seems to make sense to me that the employee himself should be held to account for these types of incidents rather than the employer. If a fellow employee hits my car in the parking lot, I wouldn’t sue the company would I? Why would the company be liable for a workplace shooting incident or if some dipshit employee has an ND in the bathroom? You could even tie this immunity to not having a policy that forbids license holders from carrying on the premises.

Think it would work? I don’t see why not. Sure, some companies won’t get it, but I much prefer using the carrot and stick approach, rather than flushing private property rights down the toilet.

UPDATE: Somehow I closed comments on this.  Didn’t mean to.  It’s open again.

9 thoughts on “Texas Bill Undermining Property Rights”

  1. I can see your “private property king/castle argument” but there is also the employee’s right to protection to and from work. I think a “guns locked in the car” works as a reasonable compromise. That balances the employer’s desire to keep guns out of the workplace with the employee’s desire for protection to and from work.

    In my case, there is _no_ public parking within miles. It’s all light industrial with parking for employees. Guess that’s the similar to the Disneyland employees Cam mentioned tonight.

    Meanwhile there are quite a few shooters here in the building, and we openly talk about guns & shooting. Particularly a local “after work” shooting event at the local shooting club. I’d bet on that day, many have a complete kit of weapon, ammo, mags and holster locked away in the car.

    IMHO locked in the car is a reasonable compromise between the employee’s right to self protection and the employer’s liability. Even better yet, take the SWA model of “let us know and we’ll provide a locker in the building”, but I wouldn’t make it a requirement on every employer to provide such facilities. Make CCW license a requirement if you want as those are certified “good guys” with about the best law compliance rate among any group.

    Glad to hear ya’ll (Texas lingo) had a good time on your vacation!

  2. Your home is your private property. It is surrounded by the private property of others. Does that mean your neighbors get to decide what you may have or not in your home? Can they ban the internet in your home? TV? Water? If not, why not?

    How is that different from your private property (your automobile, an extension of your home) being surrounded by the private property of others ( the employers’ parking lots)?

    I hold that it is not. Further that a prohibition of what one may have in his own private property (vehicle) because of a temporary location of that private property is a defacto ban on the rights guaranteed by the second amendment extending , in reality, to all or most activities and travels when the exercise of such right is most crucial.

    If we are to imbue the employer with such overwhelming power over the exercise of individual rights, why cannot rape, murder, or theft be justified as an extension of the property rights of the employer? After all, the employee wanting to avoid such transgression of his or her rights could seek employment elsewhere. Do not claim “apples and oranges”. It is not. My rights are not subject to repeal by government fiat, they certainly are not subject to repeal by another individual.

    I could not remove my arm from my vehicle, not even to move it to the trunk, without violating the employer’s property rights if he chooses to not allow arms on his property. Concomitantly, he may not restrict what I may do on or in my private property regarding the exercise of my constitutionally guaranteed rights, just because his property surrounds mine.

  3. Sebastian:

    It’s an interesting distinction, between the automobile being on an employer’s private property, versus the “expectation of privacy” that’s engendered by being in an extension of one’s own property. I don’t believe that the police have the power to search a vehicle/automobile at random on public streets (at least, not without either probable cause, or a search warrent, or while making an arrest). How is it that an employer is granted broader powers than the police? Would this be justified in the same way that free speech may be abriged by an employer (at least, while on their property) but not by the state?

    Slightly off topic, I was wondering if a legal (civil) liability exists for employers who ban concealed carry on their properties, yet do nothing to provide for security? In my particular case, Minnesota law requires the posting of a sign (with minimum-sized lettering, and a minimum verbiage) in order for property owners to forbid the carrying of concealed firearms onto that property. My employer has NOT done so, and yet has a company policy prohibiting employees from carrying firearms on the company property. Should some horrific event occur, with a total stranger walking in off the street past the (unarmed) receptionist, and proceed to attempt a mass killing, will the employer have a civil liability should I be injured or killed, in a situation where my possesion of a firearm would have reasonably prevented my injury/death?

    I’d be curious to know the ramifications of such an event, if anyone is knowledgable.

  4. Just to be clear, I’m absolutely against employer prohibitions having any force of law, including the signage thing a lot of states do. Whether you’re packing or not on company property should be entirely between you and the company, and not between you and the state, or you the state and the company.

    For the record, I don’t believe employers have the right to search your vehicle, but they do have the right to fire employees, or have your vehicle taken off their property. I would never accept a search of my vehicle or person by an employer, and I accept that could mean they would fire me.

    My attitude on carry in places that don’t allow it is: “Keep it concealed, and keep it quiet, and you won’t have any problems.” But understand that in Pennsylvania, all the property owner can do is ask you to leave. I know in some states that’s not the case.

  5. I am a strong individual rights person. An individual property rights is a part of that. And if an employer wishes to forbid employees from bringing guns, or fishing poles, to his house all well and fine. But if we, as a society, are going to accept as reasonable protected classes of people, such as making laws against descrimination at the work place of people by race, religion, etc. Then I say that we as a society must accept that the ultimate protected class is the individual practicing their rights in private. And I consider the interior of my vechicle private. As does most non-municiple courts. Thus the limitations of police power to search within your personal vehicle.

    One of the ways I judge the balance between the rights of two individuals is the impacts upon life & liberties.

    In this case, if I secure a gun within my car legally I impact the liberty of my employer to enforce a gun free parking lot but I do not reduce the life of employer. If my employer bans guns in the parking lot he impacts my liberty to choose my method of self defense. So there is a certain balance in the liberties impact. However if a handgun is my only choice of defense of my life (for example wheelchair bound and can not escape or physically defend myself) then the employers exercise of rights impacts my life. That is not in balance.

    And therefore, my right to keep a gun secured in my car (if legal in my state and for self defense purposesits not in IL) trumps the employer’s property rights.

    This does not even take into consideration that personally owned property that is a work location outside of the home is considered a place of public accommadation to a certain extent and thus is treated differently under most laws that a personally owned property that is posted ‘no trespassing – offenders will be shot and composted’.

    “In IL more people have been killed in the last year by hammers than by the kinds of guns that would be banned by IL SB16, an AWB bill.” my comment to State Senator Clayborne.

  6. I disagree with your premise that the law in any way diminishes the property rights of employers. My automobile is my property and everything in it is my domain. If the employer wants to forbid me from carrying a firearm on his property, fine, when I step out of my property, my car, and onto his property I will abide by his rules. I claim that by supporting the employers in this case your are not only diminishing my right to self-defense, which is a natural right, and my property rights over my car. Just because my tires are touching his property, doesn’t make everything within my car his property.

    I’d also like to point out that regardless of what most people think, we can usually carry a handgun on most business property right now. Almost no employers have controls at the gates and proper signage that would prevent me from walking all over their property or into their buildings lawfully. If this is such a big stink, why don’t we see signage? The opposition to this bill is anti-gun, it has nothing to do with property rights. If the employers believed that, they’d have the right signage posted and enforce it.

  7. Deavis, see my next post on the issue and commentary. I think I’m gravitating away from the notion that my objection is mainly rooted in property rights, but more rooted in my desire not to see government regulate private agreements between parties any more than it already does.

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