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Monday, March 8, 2010

Gun rights vs. private property rights

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

I believe the Constitution means what it says in the Second Amendment, which states "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The framers intended the Bill of Rights to be a list of "negative" rights, meaning it is a list of things the government may not do to infringe on the rights that they assumed free men automatically have. It is not meant to be a list of what private citizens and businesses may or may not do.

While I am an avid supporter of Second Amendment rights, and I have been critical of the National Rifle Association for a lack of commitment to the Second Amendment, I am opposed to House Bill 1065. This bill passed by a huge margin in both chambers of the Indiana state legislature, passing by 74-20 in the House and 41-9 in the Senate. HB 1065 would make it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from taking a gun to work and leaving it in a locked vehicle out of plain sight. Some employers, such as schools, are exempt from this law.

Once again, state government is restricting private property rights for political gain. This is, after all, an election year. One of the bill's authors, Trent Van Haaften, is the presumptive Democratic nominee for Congress in the Eighth District and will be facing a difficult challenge in November from the eventual Republican nominee. Therefore, Van Haaften is attempting to shore up support with the gun owners who will be critical to winning the seat.

Simply put, state government has absolutely no business telling employers whether or not their private property will be a gun-free zone. If an employer, from a retail store to a factory or an accounting firm, wishes to prohibit employees from bringing firearms to work, they should have the right to do so. It is the business that owns or leases the property, not state government. Hoosier employers do not need interference from 150 state legislators in Indianapolis on how to run their business. What they need is to be left alone.

Van Haaften simply does not get it. Apparently he has missed the tea parties and the town hall meetings for the last year, where people told government to stop the excessive taxation and regulation of our lives and our businesses. Supporters of HB 1065 argue that this enhances individual rights, but you cannot expand rights for one person by restricting the rights of another. Voters in the Eighth District should see through Van Haaften's smokescreen and recognize this legislation for what it is: more unnecessary legislation restricting private property rights.

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