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Gun rights vs. private property rights

I believe the Constitution means what it says in the Second Amendment, which states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The framers intended the Bill of Rights to be a list of “negative” rights, meaning it is a list of things the government may not do to infringe on the rights that they assumed free men automatically have. It is not meant to be a list of what private citizens and businesses may or may not do.

While I am an avid supporter of Second Amendment rights, and I have been critical of the National Rifle Association for a lack of commitment to the Second Amendment, I am opposed to House Bill 1065. This bill passed by a huge margin in both chambers of the Indiana state legislature, passing by 74-20 in the House and 41-9 in the Senate. HB 1065 would make it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from taking a gun to work and leaving it in a locked vehicle out of plain sight. Some employers, such as schools, are exempt from this law.

(Read more after the leap)

Once again, state government is restricting private property rights for political gain. This is, after all, an election year. One of the bill’s authors, Trent Van Haaften, is the presumptive Democratic nominee for Congress in the Eighth District and will be facing a difficult challenge in November from the eventual Republican nominee. Therefore, Van Haaften is attempting to shore up support with the gun owners who will be critical to winning the seat.

Simply put, state government has absolutely no business telling employers whether or not their private property will be a gun-free zone. If an employer, from a retail store to a factory or an accounting firm, wishes to prohibit employees from bringing firearms to work, they should have the right to do so. It is the business that owns or leases the property, not state government. Hoosier employers do not need interference from 150 state legislators in Indianapolis on how to run their business. What they need is to be left alone.

Van Haaften simply does not get it. Apparently he has missed the tea parties and the town hall meetings for the last year, where people told government to stop the excessive taxation and regulation of our lives and our businesses. Supporters of HB 1065 argue that this enhances individual rights, but you cannot expand rights for one person by restricting the rights of another. Voters in the Eighth District should see through Van Haaften’s smokescreen and recognize this legislation for what it is: more unnecessary legislation restricting private property rights.

This post was tagged under: 2010 Election, 2nd Amendment

10 Responses to “Gun rights vs. private property rights”

  1. Michael Jezierski says:

    I disagree. Your employer should not restrict your rights when you enter the parking lot. Which in effect restricts your rights during your entire trip to and from work.

    • indystudent says:

      Micahel, I would say you have the right to look for another employer.

      Rights are not a free-for-all, believe it or not. And I'm more libertarian than most when it comes to this.

      You can exercise your rights, true. But you also need to be able to deal with the consequences.

      We all have freedom of religion. We may express our religious beliefs and worship freely, or not at all. However, if I choose my place of employment as a place to proselytize, my employer has the right to fire me.

      Did I exercise my right of free speech by promoting my religion? Sure. My employer would however be exercising his right to fire me for not working.

      This is an absolutely horrible new law that doesn't actually expand gun owners rights. If the weapon is locked in your car, you aren't going to be able to use it to protect yourself or anyone else.

  2. Scott Tibbs says:

    Your rights aren't restricted, because you can choose to work somewhere else.

    We all make trade offs based on where we work. Most employers will not allow you to peaceably assemble in the parking lot while you're on the clock, either. We make decisions whether our employer's rules are acceptable, and make choices accordingly.

    How far does it go, Michael? If you are visiting my home, should I be able to restrict your rights by saying I don't want you to have a gun in your car while you're in my home? What about a church that forbids people attending from bringing guns with them on Sundays, even if they are secured in the car? If we're going to start restricting private property rights, where do we draw the line?

  3. Masson says:

    I definitely agree that it's not a 2nd Amendment right involved since it's not the government restricting your ability to possess guns but another private actor (the employer, in this case.) So, it becomes a battle between competing property rights – the gun owner's personal property rights versus the real estate owner's real property rights.

    In this case, the General Assembly is dictating whose property rights trump – personal property rights (a specific kind of personal property right) are being given a preference over real property rights.

  4. indystudent says:

    What's interesting is that home owners are able to declare their property gun free zones.

    I think a class action lawsuit could easily get this law thrown out as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. You shouldn't pass laws like this and apply the law differently depending on what the zoning of the land is.

  5. Michael Jezierski says:

    So using the example of property rights trumping constitutional rights, someone can put up a sign on their business (or home) reading "Juden Verboten"? I hardly think not.

  6. indystudent says:

    Michael, this is not Germany. We do not prohibit any and all Holocause denialism, and we don't (or at least shouldn't) outlaw speech just because we don't like it.

    This is the United States. Not only does the home or business owner have the right to put up whatever sign they want, but they also have the right to exercise free speech.

    However, these rights go both ways. If a sign is put up, you as a consumer, are free to not shop there, organize a demonstration against the business, or even a boycott. If it's an individual, you are free to not associate with that person.

    It's also worth noting that a business cannot discriminate in hiring or firing based on religious beliefs, among others. Look for that business to get served in a lawsuit the first time a Jew doesn't get hired there.

  7. Hmm, did you miss the Michael's larger point, that by denying him the right to have a weapon locked in his car at work, you've also denied him the right to protect himself on the road between home and work?

    Either the right is not infringed, or it is. You can't have it both ways.

  8. indystudent says:

    I did see Michael's point, and it was a disturbing one. That we shouldn't allow speech that someone (IE him) finds offensive. That goes against individual liberties, and I can't see how someone can claim to support individual choice and liberty and support this law which forces business owners to do something.

    The gun owners right to self defense is not infringed. They have another right too, the right to go get another job. Your right are not infringed upon if a private property owner is giving the orders. As long as he isn't discriminating in hiring/firing/promotions and isn't treating his employees inhumanely, he can run his business as he sees fit.

    There are very few times when individual rights trump property owner rights. This is not one of them.

  9. robert says:

    If the NRA volunteers to pay my property taxes, then I'll bd glad to let them make the rules for my property. In the meantime, I will allow them to stick to making rules for their homes and office space, and I'll make the rules for mine. In other words, I'll mind my business and they can mids theirs.

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