Thursday, April 07, 2011

Gun Backers Seek Law Allowing Weapons at Work

How safe would you feel knowing that your co-workers could legally bring guns to work? Well, that’s just what the NRA wants.

Last year Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law a measure that bans employers from telling their workers that they cannot have guns in their cars while at work. Indiana is just one of 13 states that have granted such rights to employees. “Bring your gun to work” or “parking lot” laws originated partly from the 2008 landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down Washington DC’s handgun ban.

The Indiana law was signed just two weeks after Edgar Tillery went to his employer’s parking lot, grabbed a gun from his parked car, and came back inside firing. Why? Because he had been told by his supervisor at the Indiana Workforce Development Dept that his performance as an auditor was subpar, and that he should shape up or consider resigning. Fortunately the gun jammed, and no one was hurt. But how could any rational personal learn of such an incident and conclude that every employee should be permitted to bring a gun to work?

Well it gets even weirder. After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ was attacked in Tucson, in January, leaving six dead and several injured (including Giffords), gun rights advocates rushed to push for BROADER rights reasoning, “People see an incident like this and they think, ‘They’re going to take our guns. We better get every law we can,’” said Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in Washington. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Legal Community Against Violence, a public interest law center in San Francisco, 33 of 37 bills introduced in 16 state legislatures this year involve guns on company property, 33 of them coming after the Tucson attack.

All that in spite of research data clearly showing that just the opposite is called for: Workplaces that allowed guns were about five times more likely to experience a homicide as those where all weapons were banned, according to a May 2005 report in the American Journal of Public Health that analyzed North Carolina employers. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics says workplace shootings caused 420 deaths in 2009 and 421 in 2008.

So where’s the logic in the NRA insisting that workers be allowed to sue their employers for even asking about firearms in vehicles? Both Indiana and North Dakota saw measures proposed this year that champion just such legislation.

“This is spelled out in our Constitution,” says Indiana Sen. Johnny Nugent, a Republican (surprise!) from Lawrenceburg who serves on the NRA board of directors and wrote the pending Indiana bill. “People have a right to defend themselves.”

And the rest of the civilized world wonders why so many people are killed every year in the United States. Well now we know.

Source material from the San Francisco Chronicle Business Section, Monday, April 4, 2011

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