Friday, January 25, 2008

Just Shoot Me

I was going to write a post about the so-called “parking lot” bill that has been in the news of late, examining the history of the issue and comparing/contrasting the various legislative proposals currently in play under the Gold Dome. Then common sense kicked in. Even though I intended to leave aside the property rights versus gun rights debate, my eyes glazed over and my brain began to hurt upon trying to get a reasonably accurate and concise overview together for those who may not be conversant in the issues involved.

Suffice it to say that a narrowly-focused SB 43 died in committee last year, a limited measure prompted by the Weyerhaeuser incident in Oklahoma, that would have prohibited employers from searching employees’ cars parked on company property. On the other side of the capital, a more expansive HB 89, the “Business Security and Employee Privacy Act” passed in the House last February. This is where arguments concerning the property rights of business owners versus the Second Amendment rights of individuals came into the picture, as the bill, generally speaking, would have prohibited employer bans on employees having guns in their cars while on company property.

The House legislation carried over to this year. The amended bill that recently passed in the Senate strengthened (or gutted) the House version (depending on whose opinion one cites). The Senate version allows licensed carry permit holders, though not employees generally, to possess a firearm in any private motor vehicle and while on any publicly accessible parking lot; prohibits gun dealer entrapment schemes (a.k.a. the Bloomberg amendment – interestingly, this is already a federal offense but not a state one), allows carry permit holders to do so in state parks and historic sites, and imposes a strict time limit for the bureaucracy to complete the carry permit application process.

For what it is worth, many of the provisions of the Senate version mirror those of yet another proposal, HB 915, the “Second Amendment Protection Act of 2008.” Both House bills have Rep. Tim Beardon as their primary sponsors, whose original HB 7, the precursor of HB 89, dates back to 2006.

As someone who has been an avid (and occasionally competitive) shooter and held a Georgia carry permit for almost my entire adult life, I think that all of these proposals, complimentary or competing as the case may be, have merit. What is most interesting to me is the sniping between and among business organizations and various gun rights groups (pun intended). C’mon guys, let’s not get mired down in our differences – instead let’s work for the common good by making the state’s carry laws more friendly toward law-abiding citizens.

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