Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indiana Guns in the Workplace Parking Lot

True / Slant published a wonderful piece by Austin Considine about the new law Governor Daniels signed into law in Indiana.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a controversial bill into law at the end of last week, that allows employees to bring their guns to work, permitted those guns are left hidden in their cars.

Just a few weeks prior, the state’s General Assembly had passed the bill — HEA 1065 — amid a flurry of debate between Second Amendment advocates, and those who argue that business should have the right to protect their own properties as they deem fit.

I’m not really surprised Daniels signed the bill. Gun advocates constitute a powerful lobby in Indiana, which has some of the loosest gun-buying laws in the country. But, as I wrote the other week, I had hoped a recent Indiana workplace shooting — one that transpired, literally, the day after the bill left the Assembly — might give Daniels a moment’s pause.

We talked about that recent shooting, a typical disgruntled employee. How in the world will a law like this help? Will it give the other employees a chance to run out to their own cars to retrieve guns? Then we'd be at the mercy of the one with the greatest firepower, hopefully a good guy.

What's your opinion? Is this a good move for Indiana? How can it be seen as such? Does the following remark make sense?

“We believe a citizen’s constitutional right to self-protection doesn’t stop when they drive onto their employer’s property,” NRA spokeswoman Rachel Parsons said.

My first question is what "right" is she referring to exactly? I believe my "right to self-protection" is lessened by people who carry guns? I'd bet most business owners feel that way too.

My second question is what good is being able to keep a gun in the car? Is that for "self-protection" during the ride to the office? If something happens at work, are you supposed to run out to the parking lot? Is that it? That's what the disgruntled employees do.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

31 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. "Will it give the other employees a chance to run out to their own cars to retrieve guns? Then we'd be at the mercy of the one with the greatest firepower, hopefully a good guy."

    You fail to see that you're already at the mercy of the bad guy--and only the bad guy--if he is the only one to bring a gun to work.

    Besides, what exactly is the point of calling the police, except to bring more firepower to subdue the bad guy? If they showed up with nothing more than whistles and flashing lights, would that stop the bad guy, or give him more targets?

    "How in the world will a law like this help?"

    Many employers, feeling that if they allow people to carry their concealed weapon into work, will possibly be legally liable for any workplace violence that takes place, and they often bar employees from carrying guns within the confines of the workplace. Sometimes, they will go so far as to say that the employee can't even carry their concealed firearm in their car.

    All this bill does is force the the company to not fire the employee for ignoring this ridiculous rule--after all, the car is the private property of the employee. The company has no right, power or authority to tell you what you are allowed to have in your car, especially if the item in question is legal. Can they fire you for having a hammer, or matches in your car? Should they be able to?

    "My first question is what "right" is she referring to exactly?"

    You don't believe that you have a right to defend yourself, mikeb?

    "I believe my "right to self-protection" is lessened by people who carry guns?"

    Oh, so you do believe that you have a right to self defense--so, what was the point of the first question? And how does another person choosing to take the precaution and burden of carrying a firearm with them as part of their self defense in any way reduce or lessen or interfere with your right to self protection? Is it even possible, unless they are disarming you, physically threatening you or otherwise harming you?

    "My second question is what good is being able to keep a gun in the car? Is that for "self-protection" during the ride to the office?"

    Yes, precisely.

    "If something happens at work, are you supposed to run out to the parking lot? Is that it?"

    Makes more sense than cowering under your desk waiting to die, doesn't it?

    "That's what the disgruntled employees do."

    So, because a disgruntled employee recognizes that a firearm is potentially lethal, and an excellent tool for killing or stopping someone, the rest of the employees should be disarmed? And what happens when that disgruntled employee comes in with a gun anyway? How does disarming all the people who aren't disgruntled help?

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  3. Again, logic is a strange and foreign concept to RuffRidr.

    Ruff argues that gunowners need to protect themselves to and from the workplace. Yet, as the article notes--many businesses and places of employment (e.g., schools, utilities, domestic violence centers, etc.) sought and received exemptions because--surprise, surprise--the risk far outweighs the benefit.

    Ruff also claims carjackings are "common" in "many" locales. Apparently, the words "common" and "many" hold a special, secret defintion for Ruff--unknown to others on this planet.

    In IN, you have about a .21% chance of being a car theft victim. Of course, the overwhelming majority of car thefts occur when the car's owner is not in or near his/her vehicle. Thus, your chances of being a carjacking victim is some very small fraction of .21%.

    This is what Ruff deems "common."

    --JadeGold

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  4. You have a .000000001% chance of being a workplace shooter. Therefore you are still many many times more apt to need your gun for protection to and from work than you are suddenly deciding to mow down your co-workers.

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  5. Once again, JG shows that she cannot read, or cannot comprehend.

    RuffRidr said: In many locales car jackings are common. Why should a law abiding CCW holder not be able to protect themselves in this situation?

    JG responded: In IN, you have about a .21% chance of being a car theft victim ... Thus, your chances of being a carjacking victim is some very small fraction of .21%.

    So, when RR was saying "many locales," JG read "the entire state of IN."

    There are no bad neighborhoods where you live JG? Places that you wouldn't normally go at 5 am, but might have to drive through on your way to work?

    IN is a nice state. I've been there several times, and liked it very much. Even Gary, IN. I wouldn't want to live in Gary, IN, though. And there were a few neighborhoods in Indianapolis I would definitely avoid.

    But all of this is beside the point, of course. What you decide to carry in your car, as long as it is legal, should not be used as an excuse to fire you, just because the company you work for is afraid of legal liability.

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  6. "You have a .000000001% chance of being a workplace shooter. "

    So, Shrimp's claim that you need a gun at work to protect against workplace shootings isn't valid?

    Color me surprised.

    But back to reality. Some 40+ people are killed annually in the US in workplace shootings. No other country on earth comes close. Does anyone actually believe moving guns much closer to the workplace is going to do anything but increase such events?

    Of course, Ruff will likely argue that we need to bring guns to work to protect ourselves from those who bring guns to work.

    --JadeGold

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  8. Ruff's constant state of befuddlement is amusing.

    Again, carjacking --anywhere in the US--is not "common."

    Of course, English may not be Ruff's second or third language after Klingon, Esperanto and Gibberish. So, perhaps he has a far different definition of "common" than the rest of us.

    DoJ estimates about 45K attempted carjackings per year in the US. There are about 260M registered vehicles in the US. This means you have about a .00017% chance of being the victim of an attempted hijacking.

    Vegas thrives thanks to folks like Ruff.

    --JadeGold

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  9. From Shrimp:

    "My first question is what "right" is she referring to exactly?"

    You don't believe that you have a right to defend yourself, mikeb?

    "I believe my "right to self-protection" is lessened by people who carry guns?"

    Oh, so you do believe that you have a right to self defense--so, what was the point of the first question?

    Rachel the spokeswoman said, "a citizen’s constitutional right to self-protection"

    Then I asked my question which you answered with a question.

    I'm aasking what part of the Constitution does it speak of "self-protection."

    In my second question which you tried to make believe nullifies the first, I put the "self-kprotection" in quotation marks for a reason.

    My point is "self-protection" can be variously understood. I think mine would be best served if no one around me has a gun. You think differently, I know.

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  10. "I'm aasking what part of the Constitution does it speak of "self-protection." "

    It's the one right below the one that mentions "separation of church and state."

    There are lots of phrases that get used to describe various aspects of our rights. Clearly, the words "self protection" are not used anywhere in the Constitution. Nor are the words "States' rights," nor "separation of church and state." Yet people refer to them as being in the Constitution all the time.

    My momma used to call what you did there "being a horse's ass." You know perfectly well which amendment Rachel means, but are trying to grasp at straws and discredit her for saying it in those words.

    Hey, it's your blog, you get to do that.

    As for the entire concept of self protection/ self defense, you prove my point right here:
    My point is "self-protection" can be variously understood. I think mine would be best served if no one around me has a gun.

    In other words, you acknowledge that you have a right to self protection, and that you alone should choose what serves you best. That is entirely the point.

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  11. "So, Shrimp's claim that you need a gun at work to protect against workplace shootings isn't valid?"

    Uhh, where did I claim that? A gun isn't a magical talisman that wards off evil, and I never claimed it did.

    I do stand by the concept that it is better to have a gun than not, for defense against such events as workplace shootings and assaults, and rapes and robberies and all kinds of crimes. One never knows where and when a crime may occur. If you, JG, are gifted with such knowledge, please enlighten the rest of us on how to discern it.

    "But back to reality. Some 40+ people are killed annually in the US in workplace shootings. No other country on earth comes close..."

    All of this is beside the point, because the point of the law isn't about stopping workplace shootings, although that will likely be a benefit in the long run.

    The point of the bill is to prevent companies from firing employees for having a perfectly legal item in their car, which is the employee's private property.

    "DoJ estimates about 45K attempted carjackings per year in the US. There are about 260M registered vehicles in the US. This means you have about a .00017% chance of being the victim of an attempted hijacking.

    Once again, your definition of "locale" is faulty. You've gone from talking about a single state to an entire nation, moving further away from the concept of a "locale."

    45K attempted carjackings, throughout the US, annually. Only about 30K firearms deaths annually, including suicides and justified homicides. Taking out about half of the 30K for suicides (since they are only committing violence against themselves, and the rate is fairly static at about 15K) we're left with 15K firearms deaths annually, more or less.

    There are more than 300 million people in the US, so using your math, one has less than 0.00005 percent chance of dying by firearm violence in this country. So, using your "logic," why the need to ban them?

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  12. If we may be practical – and civil – for a moment, let me mention that circular firing squads are a really, really bad idea, even in self-defense.

    Because we are raised on violence as entertainment, by the time we're 12 we all think we're Jack Bauer.

    'T'ain't so.

    Police, armed security professionals and military personnel drill constantly and train constantly to ensure appropriate and safe (sounds odd, but there you are) use of deadly force. And even then, mistakes occur.

    Until you've tried to use a weapon while in fear for your life (or a loved one's), you haven't seen your hands shake. You haven't experienced real tunnel vision. And it's too late when you've killed an innocent bystander by accident.

    If you want to carry in public, you'd better train hard and often, you'd better have some terrific personal liability insurance, and you'd better have your attorney on speed dial.

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  13. Very true, Tom. Everyone who carries a tool for self-defence owes it to themselves and others to get training. Fortunatly, training centers are availible throughout the US.

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  14. "My second question is what good is being able to keep a gun in the car? Is that for "self-protection" during the ride to the office? If something happens at work, are you supposed to run out to the parking lot? Is that it?"

    If someone were to start shooting at work, I bet I could run to my car and back twice, before you even heard the first police siren.

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  15. AztecRed pointed out, "If someone were to start shooting at work, I bet I could run to my car and back twice, before you even heard the first police siren."

    Now, that's a contingency worth planning for. Of course, if you're gonna be that careful, you better worry about the meteorites too.

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  16. Tom, It sounds like you know what you're talking about.

    I don't know if you've run into it but some of the pro-gun commenters will take exception with all that emphasis on training. Some can't afford it, others just don't have the time or the inclination, yet they have every right to arm themselves for self-defense. This is something that I dispute, but I like very much the way you describe the importance of training.

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  17. Mike, if you haven't already read his work, I recommend the writing of Massad Ayoob to you and your backblog. It's damn sobering.

    In fact, Ayoob's work should be the Bible/Koran/Torah of any practical discussion of Second Amendment rights as they play out on the street in the United States.

    With 2A rights, as with any others, come specific responsibilities. Ayoob makes three points again and again:
    First, train as you will fight, fight as you will train, then take as much wildly divergent training as you can because the fight will always be different than your training;
    Second, you will not be the same person once you have used lethal force on another human being; your opponent may be dead or not, but you will bear psychological (if not physical) wounds from the act;
    Third, you will go to trial after your act of self-defense, either in a criminal case brought by your local authorities or in a civil case brought by the survivors of your opponent.

    The price of saving our own lives can be very high indeed, which does not diminish our right or need to do so. But all those cowboy movies we saw as kids? They were fiction.

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  18. The parking lot is STILL considered the workplace. Employers who allow their employees to bring guns to work will very likely be liable for any injury that results. Regardless of how I feel about the issue, I would NEVER greenlight such a policy unless my employer client was will to take on that risk. Even then, I would be willing to wager that their GL/WC carrier would balk.

    And a 'guns in cars' policy just seems weak to me. I am most afraid of my safety when going from my car into a building and vice versa. I wouldn't feel any safer at all knowing that if I could just make it to my car, my gun is there. In fact, I'd be kinda pissed.

    If an employer chooses to accept the liability and allows its employees to carry for their safety, seems like a better policy from a practicality standpoint would be to have some sort of gun locker in the building or right at the entrance.

    However, as a lawyer and from a liability standpoint, I could never counsel a client to enact anything other than a blanket policy prohibiting guns/weapons at the workplace.

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  19. I should also point out that I don't really think there is any enforceable way that an employer can keep an employee from having a gun in their vehicle. A policy prohibiting that is simply a policy, and one that an employer would point to in order to absolve themselves from liability in the event that there was an injury as a result of an employee having a gun in their vehicle.

    In other words, employer would say 'hey, person-with-gun wasn't an "employee" under color of law when the accident happened because our policy strictly says no guns at the workplace. therefore we are not liable.'

    Hope this makes sense. I am tired.

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  20. SFL:

    As far as the liability issue you raise, the law as written I believe only applies to those with a concealed carry license. What if the state also had a provision that said that a business could not be held liable because they allowed or disallowed concealed weapons by valid concealed weapon/handgun license holders. Would that get a green light?

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  21. FWM - I would be cool with that. I still think the biz's insurance carriers might have an issue with it, so the state would probably have to write some ins law on this, as well. GL and WC underwriters are really persnickety.

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  22. MikeB: “I don't know if you've run into it but some of the pro-gun commenters will take exception with all that emphasis on training.”

    Really? Who said that? I say practice, practice, practice… I hope you’ll agree that ammo taxes (or other restrictions on availability) are a bad idea because it is the ones who put all that emphasis on training that will be affected by it. Just a guess here (as I don’t know who told you what), but they may have just been opposing a licensing scheme- as in you have to pass a training class to get your state issued gun ownership license. Additionally when gun owners form groups that emphasize training, I have seen you act like they are racist vigilantes, or right wing terrorist militias bent on overthrowing the government.

    -TS

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  23. Tom, Thanks for the tip on Ayoob.

    TS, The complaints about training come in when someone tries to make them requirements. Tom seems to be talking about best practice, but some gun control folks think there should be increased requirements along these lines. The pro-gun resistance to these was what I was half-jokingly referring to.

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  24. Tom and TS - we have had some discussion on responsibility and training on my blog. I think they are tagged under 2nd Am, if you are interested in reading.

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  25. MikeB: “The complaints about training come in when someone tries to make them requirements.”

    Yeah, and that is because in order to make them requirements, you’d have to have registration and licensing, and that is where the complaint comes in. It’s tough, because I think most gun owners are all for the training aspect.

    SFL, thanks for the link- I’ll check it out.

    -TS

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  26. It’s tough, because I think most gun owners are all for the training aspect.

    Not if it's a requirement for the exercize of a Constitutional right.

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  27. Most of the laws like this one that take away an employer's liability also take away the right of an innocent employee who gets shot on the job to get workers' compensation! Totally unfair!

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  28. Do you really think crazy out of their mind people that want to shoot someone give a damn about your quaint gun control laws?

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  29. You really think some nutcase gunman gives a damn about whatever quaint gun control laws exist. Sure you add that to the laws against shooting someone because you don't like them at work.

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" -- Benjamin Franklin

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  30. No, voice of common sense, I don't think crazy people or criminals will obey laws. What would ever make you think that I think that?

    Gun control laws are aimed at law-abiding gun owners for one reason, to constrain them to do the right thing with their guns. Some of the problem is a direct one, you know lawful guys going off the deep end, the part is indirect, lawful guys allowing their guns to flow into the criminal world.

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