By AUSTIN CONSIDINE
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.
A recent report in the South Bend Tribune provides a nice bit of context:
The National Rifle Association has successfully lobbied for similar laws in 12 other states. About 300,000 Indiana residents have permits allowing them to carry a firearm, according to the NRA.
“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.
[George Raymond, vice president of human resources and labor relations at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce,] said the 2nd Amendment was written so people would have the right to protect their property.
It’s ironic, he said, that the 2nd Amendment is being used in this debate to override property rights.
via South Bend Tribune: Indiana gun bill is signed into law.
Ironic to say the least. As indicated above, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce — which typically loves Daniels for his business-first attitude when it comes to things like, say, the environment — has been at the forefront in criticizing this bill. The reasons are pretty obvious: what employer wants his or her employees bringing guns to work? Haven’t we seen enough in the way of shooting sprees lately?
As noted by the editorial board at the Indianapolis Star — itself hardly a bastion of anti-gun-style liberalism — there may be significant legal grounds on which to challenge the law.
Himself a lawyer, Daniels must know there are larger issues as well. By overriding employers’ rights of property and self-protection in favor of a dubious cause of individual armed defense, the legislature set up a fundamental confrontation for some future courtroom.
Daniels maintained that the federal and state constitutions have resolved that dispute in favor of gun-bearers. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, arguably Daniels’ biggest fan, disagrees cordially.
The chamber itself cannot sue because it doesn’t own the space its offices occupy. Other possible plaintiffs will not be lacking. The chamber was joined in its opposition to HEA 1065 by a Who’s Who of business and nonprofit groups, including the Indiana Manufacturers Association, Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana Petroleum Council, various corporations and the state’s universities.
Legal and constitutional concerns aside, such vehement opposition on the part of those most affected by the legislation should be taken as a definitive verdict on its merits.