Lawmakers Give Floridians the Right to Come to Work "Packing"

April 10, 2008 ( - Under a bill passed by state lawmakers Wednesday, most Floridians would be able to take their guns to work.

The bill, CS/HB 503, actually bars employers from banning guns on their property, provided that employees and customers with the weapons have concealed-weapons permits and leave the guns locked in their cars.   Voting 26-13, the Senate split along party lines, just as the state House did a week earlier in approving the proposal (Democrats lined up with business groups opposing the restrictions in the bill).   It now goes to Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who has said he has no problem signing the measure into law.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the so-called “take-your-guns-to-work” law applies to employees, customers, and those invited to the business establishment as long as they have a permit to carry the weapon (about 500,000 Floridians have concealed-weapons permits, according to published reports).    However, the measure exempts a number of workplaces, including nuclear power plants, prisons, schools, and companies whose business involves homeland security.

Critics say the measure usurps business owners’ rights to determine what happens on their property and puts workers and managers at risk from disgruntled employees.

Oklahoma, Alaska, Kentucky, and Mississippi have similar laws, although in Oklahoma, an appellate court barred the state from enforcing the legislation on grounds that it was unconstitutional (see  OK Gun Policy Law Violates OSHA’s ‘General Duty’ Clause ).

Florida business groups are urging the governor to veto the measure, saying owners should be allowed to determine what happens on their property.