Saturday, July 05, 2008

Counting our chickens

With the passage and enactment of a new Florida law which permits employees to keep firearms in their cars at their place of employment, the NRA-ILA proudly proclaimed (July 1, 2008):

Today, House Bill 503 by Representative Greg Evers and Senator Durell Peaden takes effect.

Officially, HB 503 is known as the "Preservation & Protection of the Right to Keep & Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008," even though elements of the business community continue to call it the “Guns at Work Law.”

This new law protects existing constitutional and statutory rights. Law-abiding gun owners can continue to have firearms in their private vehicles, for self-defense and other lawful purposes without fear of punitive actions against them by anti-gun businesses and employers.

Under the new law, any business or employer who violates the constitutional and statutory right of customers or employees to have firearms locked in their private vehicles can now be punished.

ALSO, under this new law, business owners will benefit from immunity from liability if guns stored in vehicles in the businesses parking lot are used to cause harm on the business property.


The law covers ALL employers and businesses. The Legislature passed and Governor Crist signed it into law to protect the right of ALL law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.

The law requires employees who park in their employer's parking lot to have a concealed weapons license in order to be exempt from a policy that prohibits employees from having guns -- IF THEIR EMPLOYER HAS SUCH A POLICY.

Customers and invitees are not required to have concealed weapons licenses in order to have firearms in their vehicles when they park their vehicles in business parking lots.

The legislation does not prohibit any employer from having a policy that bars employees from having guns on the employer's property. It merely exempts employees, who have a concealed weapons license, from the policy as it relates to having a gun locked in their private vehicle in the parking lot. Employees who do not have concealed weapons licenses are subject to an employer’s anti-gun, gun ban policy.
That sounds fairly definitive, doesn't it?

But no! Corporate America (those fine folks who run the businesses , and find themselves forced into a conflict between their corporate profits, Corporate Policy and The Law) are never short of lawyers who can finagle a way to circumvent any law, no matter how clearly it might seem to the average layman.

Unfortunately, one of Florida's largest employers, Disneyland, has decided that they are exempt from this law and they will continue with their long-standing published police of forbidding anyone from entering their property with a firearm in their car.

And they just might make it stick:
Disney cites language within Florida's newly enacted "Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008" that creates an exception for companies whose primary business is to manufacture, use, store or transport explosives regulated under federal law.

"I intended it to exempt places like defense plants, Air Force bases, things like that," said Peaden, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. "But not Disney. Not at all."

But on the same day that the House took its final vote on the gun bill, the exemption for explosives companies was revised so that it also includes "property owned or leased by an employer who has obtained a permit" under federal law for such explosives.

Disney has such a permit, for the extensive fireworks used in its theme parks.
On (curiously) Independence Day, 2008, NRA-ILA reported that a security guard at DisneyLand has announced his intention to defy the corporate policy and bring his firearm on the 23 mile commute. "Disneyland is safe ..." Security Guard Edwin Stotolmayer stated, "... but Orlando is not."

Disney told Eyewitness News it respects Sotomayer's opinion, but safety is its top priority and employees who bring guns to work risk getting fired. Sotomayer has already hired an attorney.He is not the only one who is upset. The NRA and the State Attorney General have also received complaints.

[NOTE: Disneyland was not amused when Sotomayer's gambit was attempted on Friday ... on Independence Day. He did what he said he would do: he brought his gun to town. Big D-land did what it said it would do: they canned his ass suspended him.]

In a world where businesses are subject to litigious action in case of either an accident or a terrorist attack (see Virginia Tech), it is perhaps understandable that any corporate entity would be more concerned for their legal vulnerability than for the safety of their customers. (Disney probably would disagree with this evaluation, but the new law provides protection for corporate entities:

Again, from the NRA-ILA Alert:
ALSO, under this new law, business owners will benefit from immunity from liability if guns stored in vehicles in the businesses parking lot are used to cause harm on the business property.
What is driving Disney to defy the decision of SCOTUS?

Your guess is as good as mine, but one of the benefits of Life in America is that anyone, from private individual to Corporate Entity, may challenge laws and the interpretation of those laws.

I don't agree with the Disney position, and I don't like it. But I rejoice that I live in a nation which is based on Rule By Law, rather than Rule By Fiat.

(And no, I never envisioned a situation when I would link to Time, Inc. as a definitive reference. It could be worse: I might sometime find myself agreeing with, say, Sean Penn. But I doubt it.)

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