Well, that happened last week and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joshua Evans, sent the bill back to committee rather than allowing a vote on the House floor. It’s very puzzling, as he is one of the biggest supporters of the 2nd Amendment we have in the House. He’s told people that the reason he did this is no one was calling in support of his bill.
HB 2021 – Employee Safety
House Bill 2021 is the current incarnation of legislation which the Tennessee Firearms Association has purused for years. It a bill which would allow a civilian handgun permit holder to commute to and from work without fear of being arrested or loosing her job because she felt the need or desired to commute with her self-defense handgun so long as the weapon remained secured in her car while she was at work.
“Business” opposes this legislation. Business has defined the terms of the discussion. Business has sold too many legislators on the idea that this legislation is a “mandate” that tells business what they must allow to be done on their property. For reasons explained only by money and the concern for re-election, too many legislators are listening to Business.
While civilian handgun permit holders know that this is really not a business issue, it is important if they do not want to see this legislation defeated at the insistence of Business that the facts and issues be placed into context.
While Business claims that it only seeks to protect its “property rights” from infringement, Business is being less than candid with legislators and legislators are buying it as the carrot of campaign funds are dangled slightly ahead of the issue. Certainly, there is a right that property owners have to control their property. That right is highest with private property that is not open to the public. However, when property owners make their property open to the public for business or commercial uses, governments regularly impair or infringe those rights. Governments regulate parking areas (painting, number of space, etc.), smoking on the property, lighting on the property, sound levels on the property, uses of the property (i.e., zoning), aesthetics of the property (particularly in Davidson County), public access to the property (anti-discrimination laws), guide-dog access, sanitation, OSHA and TOSHA, and the list goes on. Certainly, the evidence is overwhelming that it takes very little in the context of a government interest in business property or property that is open to the public for the state to regulate aspects of the property owners rights. So, while there are private property rights, in a modern legislative environment those rights are very small when the property is open to the public and/or commercial in nature (i.e., employees are stationed there).
On the other hand, we have the rights of civilians – the employees. The rights that we are talking about here are the most fundamental rights of self-defense. These are rights so significant that they are not created by law or the Constitutions but are merely recognized and protected by it. The right of self-defense is protected by both the federal and State constitutions. The right of self-defense can only be infringed – if at all – when there is a clearly demonstrated and compelling state interest involved. The right of self-defense is not extinguished when one leaves home or goes to work. It exists and is recognized at all places, at all times in and in all humans and, indeed, in all lifeforms.
Thus, what we have in HB2021 is a necessity to balance two rights. The supreme right of self-defense versus the rights of property owners in real property that is already heavily and frequently impaired. The question with HB2021 is not whether “property rights” are at issue but rather what is a fair and appropriate balance between the right of self-defense and the real property interests in publicly open and/or commerical properties. Certainly, except for those who do not value the right of self-defense, the right of self-defense should take precedence.
Indeed, an examination of recent actions by the Tennessee General Assembly demonstrate that the right of self-defense should take priority and that there is a reasonable balance that can be established. In 2008, the General Assembly redefined and expanded the “castle doctrine” in Tennessee. Generally, the castle doctrine applied only to one’s home and created a legal recognition and presumption that one had a right to use deadly force in her home against an intruder. In 2008, the General Assembly overwhelmingly expanded the scope of the castle to include, among other things, private automobiles. With that expansion and policy determination that the right to use deadly force attached at a higher level to assaults involving personal automobiles (e.g., car jackings), the General Assembly has already established a heightened property interest in a person’s vehicle – at least in the context of the right of self-defense.
Under this circumstance of the expansion of the castle doctrine, it thus can be fairly said that the right of self-defense, the castle doctrine itself, is impaired and infringed if an individual is precluded by law or sanction from possession of a self-defense weapon within the confines of that personal vehicle. Again, the right of self-defense, the protection of one’s own life, is a right that is higher than any interest that one might have in land.
In that light, it can be seen that a balance of the right of self-defense against property rights in commercal or business property requires that, at a minimum, the public and the employees be secure in the right and the capacity to commute about, including going to and from work, secure in the possession of a firearm for self-defense. To do otherwise, as “Business” demands of the legislators who have been elected not by Business but by the citizens, unjustly puts a premium on the right of ownership and control over real property over and above the right to be secure in one’s own life and right of self-defense.
Call your legislators and demand that they support the right of self-defense with minimal infringements of the rights proclaimed by Business in real property that they voluntarily make open to the public and subject to so much other, yet less compelling, government regulation.
CALL THEM NOW! Remind them that the citizens elected them and the citizens can elect others who will value the rights of life as more precious than the rights of access to commercal property.