Every once in a while an issue comes up that pits some rights against others. HB 1065, which is legislation the Indiana State House passed and is now awaiting Governor Mitch Daniels’ signature is one of those pieces of legislation.
The bill essentially makes it illegal for a business/employer to have a policy against employees bringing firearms, locked in a glove box or otherwise stowed away, onto their property.
Now, at first blush libertarians like myself might hail this legislation as a massive blow in favor of people’s right to self defense. But, is this not also a massive blow against private property rights? Let’s examine further and without getting tied up in the emotions of the gun issue. We will also presume that we are addressing things from a natural rights perspective within the confines of Constitutional government (not what passes for the authoritarian government systems which we have today).
Let’s lay the ground rules first.
- You have a right to your life, liberty and property.
- Nobody may deprive you of these rights without your permission.
- You have the right of voluntary association (you may not be forced to associate with people you do not desire to). Voluntary association and activity is always superior to that which is forced.
- Government is the negation of liberty and exercises all authority by threat of force or violence.
- Being on someone’s property without their permission is trespassing.
- The Constitution sets restrictions on what government may do.
- Any private property owner could set a policy that nobody is allowed to park on their property or that only American-made cars are allowed or only blue cars or whatever else.
Let’s analyze the impact of HB 1065:
Currently, an employer may set a policy that says that nobody is allowed to bring a firearm onto their private property, even if it is locked in the glove box of a car. Now, personally, I find this terribly offensive to anyone who has gone through the process and is licensed to carry a firearm or even more offensive to anyone that might be former military BUT if the private property owner sets this policy then:
1. It is not the government forcing one side or another to accept anything.
2. Voluntary associations are maintained. You may park elsewhere, petition the property owner for relief, do it anyway and keep your mouth (and glove box) shut, choose to no longer provide labor or professional services to a business or property owner that does not share your values, etc.
3. The property owner’s sovereign control of their property so long as nobody’s rights are involuntarily violated is preserved (you volunteer to the restriction by continuing to park on their property or work there).
4. There is no Constitutional violation because government did not create this restriction, a private property owner did. Just like a private business owner might choose to fire somebody for saying something stupid, offensive or threatening – there is no “free speech” protection in the private sector.
If the government sets a law that requires property owners to allow this then:
1. Association is no longer voluntary. The private property owner must now accept your trespass against their wishes.
2. It reinforces the idea that the government, not property owners, is the final arbiter of what is permissible on your premises. Smoking ban advocates try and pretend that patrons are involuntarily deprived of their right to life by the cigar or cigarette smoke in bars, completely ignoring that people voluntarily walk in and expose themselves or voluntarily work there. The SAME LOGIC APPLIES HERE – you believe in private property rights and voluntary association or you do not.
3. An employer might just add a line to their job applications – “Are you licensed to carry a firearm?” and start denying employment based on the answer. If gun permit information is available as part of a background check that might also cause an employer pause if they are adamant in ensuring no firearms are on their property. [note: payment for a permit to exercise a right is a ridiculous notion but, at least the General Assembly is working to protect that information by making it private via HB 1068]
4. Instead of somebody risking losing a job if discovered, the business owner is now a criminal if they attempt to retain control over their property.
So, while people may momentarily think they’ve won some kind a “take that you bozo employer I’ll bring my gun if”n I wanna” victory, just remember that property owners just got a big “government is the final arbiter of what you must allow and you’ll shut up and take it” from big government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
As for me personally, I strongly support the right of people to be prepared to defend themselves but I abhor the idea that government has to tell me what must be allowed on my property. Remember, the 2nd Amendment applies to government restrictions not to private property owners.