Controversial Gun Law Proposed in Florida

October 4, 2005 ( - Florida employers may soon be forced to allow employees to have guns locked in their cars at the workplace.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that two state legislators, backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have filed bills that would punish companies that try to stop workers from having guns in their cars at work.   Employers who break the law would be committing a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

The bills are modeled after an Oklahoma law allowing guns in cars at the workplace that was passed after employees at Weyerhauser were fired for storing guns in their vehicles on the company parking lot.   Employers ConocoPhillips and the Williams Cos. sued to have the law overturned saying it violated employers’ property rights and due process rights (See  Sooner State Firms Battle Gun Law ).   In return, the NRA launched a boycott against ConocoPhillips, calling the company anti-Second Amendment (See  NRA Declares War on ConocoPhillips ).

The bill is expected to create similar controversy in Florida, said the Sun-Sentinel.   Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando already have policies in place banning employees from bringing guns onto park property.

Backers of the bills say they are trying to prevent companies from forcing employees to give up their constitutional rights, but opponents say the issue isn’t gun control, it’s safety.   The bills have provisions protecting employers from being liable if an employee commits a crime with a gun stored on company property, the Sun-Sentinel reports.   Frank Mendizabal, a spokesman for Weyerhaeuser, said in the news report that provisions protecting companies from lawsuits is irrelevant, though, because immunity “doesn’t prevent someone from being shot.”