Some Tennessee citizens exercising their freedom to choose to go armed ran into a roadblock at work–at the parking lot entrance. Some employers opted to post signs, creating work-rules banning the employee from possessing a gun even if the gun were left in the employee’s car in the parking lot and never brought into a building. It looks like a compromise bill will pass: the governor will sign a bill protecting the right to carry in a employee’s car kept on the employer’s parking lot, so long as the bill excludes college campuses.
Aside from the the futility of trying to prevent murder by magically declaring zones “gun-free” I comment for this reason. The issue has persistently been cast in the news as “property rights” versus “gun rights.” This phrasing is a device used to minimize the liberty interests of the employee. The employee’s automobile is also the employee’s personal, privately-owned property. In addition to the personal, constitutional and statutory right to carry a gun, the employee also has a property right at stake in the issue—the use of the employee’s personal transportation. Sometimes, revered rights compete and clash, and this is one of those occasions. But, lawmakers and all who are interested in the issue should not forget that the employee’s right to exercise dominion over his personal property is also at stake, not just the employer’s right to manage the employer’s real estate.
Once the issue is viewed as “property right” versus “property rights (firearm and vehicle) and right to keep and bear arms,” the calculus shifts a bit toward the employee’s favor.
As we work to turn the culture away from helpless dependence on the government, back to responsible exercise of citizenship in liberty, we will have these matters to work out.