Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is this what guns-in-trunks means? If so, it is much to do about nothing.

I have carefully followed the Safe Commute Act, generally refereed to as the "guns in trunks bill," and I thought I understood it to force an employer to allow an employee with a hand gun carry permit to leave a gun locked in his car at his place of employment. I have editorialized on the bill based on that assumption. (See Thoughts about guns-in-trunks and property rights)

I was surprised to read the following in today's Tennessean

...a staff attorney told committee members that, just as employers can bar drinking-age workers from consuming alcohol on the job, they will be able to fire workers who flout no-gun policies.
The bill, however, would change state law so that those workers could no longer be arrested. (link)
If that is all it does, then it is really no big deal. This bill is a very minor change. If this is all it does it does not infringe on the property rights of employers at all. It this is all it does it is pretty much meaningless. The controversy over this bill is much to do about nothing.

Read it. It looks like the way the Tennessean reported it is correct. The bill says the gun permit holder may store his gun in his vehicle at his place of employment. It does not say the employer can not prohibit the employee from doing so.  

Below is the text of the bill: 
SENATE BILL 142 By Ramsey
HOUSE BILL 118 By Faison
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, relative to handgun carry permits.
WHEREAS, in 1996, Tennesseans were first given the opportunity to apply for and, if
meeting the qualifications, be issued a permit to carry a handgun in public; and
WHEREAS, to apply for a permit a person must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age,
a resident of Tennessee and a U.S. citizen or permanent lawful resident; and
WHEREAS, the applicant must, under oath in the application, affirm that he or she has
not been convicted of a criminal offense or otherwise occupy a status that would make
possession of a firearm prohibited by federal law; and
WHEREAS, in addition to the application, the applicant must provide two (2) full sets of
the applicant’s fingerprints for the purpose of permitting both the Tennessee bureau of
investigation and federal bureau of investigation to conduct a criminal history record check on the applicant; and
WHEREAS, the applicant is also required to submit proof of the successful completion of a department approved handgun safety course, which is required to include both classroom hours and firing range hours, to ensure the applicant knows how to safely handle a firearm and basic Tennessee law with respect to where firearms can and cannot be carried; and
WHEREAS, upon completion of the application, the applicant is required to present
photo identification and a nonrefundable one hundred fifteen dollar ($115) application fee to the department; and
WHEREAS, an applicant meeting all the requirements stated above is entitled to be
issued a Tennessee handgun permit within ninety (90) days of the department receiving the application; and
WHEREAS, even though obtaining a handgun carry permit is neither quick nor easy in
Tennessee, over 40,600 law-abiding citizens successfully completed the requirements and received a permit during 1997, the first full year of operation; and
WHEREAS, the number of handgun carry permits issued to concerned citizens who
want to responsibly and legally protect themselves and their family, both at home and on their way to and from work, has risen each of the fifteen years the permit has been available in this state to the more than 371,800 Tennesseans who hold handgun carry permits in 2012; now, therefore,
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, is amended by
adding the following as a new section thereto:
(a) Notwithstanding §§ 39-17-1309, 39-17-1311, or § 39-17-1359, unless
expressly prohibited by federal law, the holder of a valid handgun carry permit
recognized in Tennessee may transport and store a firearm or firearm
ammunition in the permit holder’s privately-owned motor vehicle, as defined in §
55-1-103, while on or utilizing any public or private parking area if:
(1) The permit holder’s vehicle is parked in a location where it is
permitted to be; and
(2) The firearm or ammunition being transported or stored in the
(A) Is kept from ordinary observation if the permit holder is
in the motor vehicle; or
(B) Is kept from ordinary observation and locked within the
trunk, glove box, or interior of the person’s privately owned motor
vehicle or a container securely affixed to such vehicle if the permit
holder is not in the vehicle.
(b) No business entity, public or private employer, or the owner,
manager, or legal possessor of the property shall be held liable in any civil action
for damages, injuries or death resulting from or arising out of another’s actions
involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored in accordance with
subsection (a) unless the business entity, public or private employer, or the
owner, manager, or legal possessor of the property commits an offense involving
the use of the stored firearm or ammunition or intentionally solicits or procures
the conduct resulting in the damage, injury or death. Nor shall a business entity,
public or private employer, or the owner, manager, or legal possessor of the
property be responsible for the theft of a firearm or ammunition stored in
accordance with subsection (a).
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Parking area” means any property provided by a business
entity, public or private employer, or the owner, manager, or legal
possessor of the property for the purpose of permitting its invitees,
customers, clients or employees to park privately-owned motor vehicles;
(2) “Parking area” does not include the grounds or property of a
owner-occupied, single-family detached residence, or a tenant-occupied
single-family detached residence.
SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-1359 is amended by deleting
from the first sentence of subsection (a) the language, “An individual, corporation” and
substituting instead the language “Except as provided in § 39-17-1313, an individual,
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013, the public welfare requiring it

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