Monday, June 12, 2006

Guns in Cars

Sorry for the lack of posting recently. My work cycle is feast or famine and I’m in the feast (too much to do) part. Such is life.

I posted about the erosion of freedom and got more comments than usual. People must protect their rights, but there are other times when liberties are at odds with each other.

A commenter, tkdkerry, wondered about my stance on guns in cars that are parked in company parking lots. (Employees of Weyerhauser in Oklahoma lost their jobs when the company searched private employee vehicles parked on company lots for contraband, including guns.)

What an excellent example of rights colliding with each other.

A property owner has the right to say no guns on my property just as he has a right to say no Bibles, booze, playing cards, cigarettes or whatever on his/her property. On the other hand, the owner is telling you that you don’t have the right to keep something in your property, your car, or the right to keep and bears arms, freedom of religion, etc.

The NRA is all over this one. They believe one should be able to keep guns in locked cars regardless of company policy and want government rules to enforce it. Other people and groups disagree vehemently with NRA.

So where do I stand? I agree with the NRA. A company should not be able to dictate the contents of my car, just because it’s casting a shadow on their lot.

Here’s why. My car is an extension of my home and is so recognized (with some caveats) by our courts. When I pull into a company’s lot for work, I don’t sign my car over to them. It’s still mine. I shouldn’t be subject to a “contraband search” unless there’s evidence I was planning or committing a crime. In that case, police should be called not private company guards.

Someone could say that if such a search is a condition of my employment, I should do what my employer says and that we shouldn’t use government to regulate what a company can do. If it upsets me too much, I should get a new job.

That’s all well and good if we were dealing with negotiations between equals.

Many companies are too big to negotiate equally with individuals. Instead, they issue policies that are subject to change with relatively little notice or they’re bought out by a larger company that changes the policies. You’re subject to these new rules even though you didn’t agree to them when you got the job. There are places where it would be hard to find a new job because your employer is the biggest in town or you’re in an esoteric profession.

Here’s another poinr, accepting gun bans based on private property rights will result in the end of legal armed self-defense. Any company, shopping center, strip mall could ban guns even if they’re locked in cars. You will have the choice to be (legally) defenseless or not be able to shop, work, or whatever.

Maybe I’m more sensitive to this than others because I’ve lived and still work in Massachusetts—home of the gun-fearing wussie. I can only imagine what would happen if employers and property owners were allowed an unchallenged right to ban guns on their properties. Pretty soon we would have bans in company lots, apartment complexes, and everywhere in between.

You see, Massachusetts has not banned guns, they’ve just made it so hard and costly to own one legally that most people don’t go through the hassle and own illegally or not at all. Anti-gunnies will use our deep respect for private property to do something similar throughout the nation.

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