A dozen representatives of the state’s largest employers today urged state lawmakers to turn down an attempt to let employees carry guns on company property – even if the weapons are locked in car trunks.
Business representatives opposed to the “guns in parking lots” bill talked for an hour, but Mark Hogan, security boss for FedEx, stated the general position.
“We should be able to say what is allowed, and not allowed, on our private property. We believe that a property owner’s right to provide a safe environment for others on the premises, trumps an individual’s right to possess a firearm on the premises.”
Earlier, Governor Bill Haslam told reporters after speaking to members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses that he’s had conversations with House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and favors a proposal similar to a Georgia law because the current measure is “a little too broad.”
“Republicans favor property rights and Republicans are in favor of second-amendment rights, so sometimes our job is to try to find the right balance there.”
The argument was put off until next week, when the Senate Commerce Committee will have look at that balancing act.
The biggest risk of gun violence occurs when an employee is fired, and large companies fire more employees than smaller ones, according to FedEx spokesman Hogan.
“Allowing employees to have near-immediate access to firearms at work creates an element of risk that is unacceptable, especially for large employers. With over 30,000 employees in Tennessee, FedEx is the largest private employer in the state.”
A second argument – not particularly subtle, considering the number of jobs controlled by the speakers – was that putting gun rights over property rights would “erode” the perceived business-friendly climate of the state.
The bill in Senate Commerce Committee is SB 2992 Faulk/HB 3559 Bass, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis that they own or (legally) carry guns.
A second bill, complementary to the anti-discrimination bill, SB 3002 Faulk / HB 3560 Bass, more directly addresses the language of “guns in trunks.”
Both the business spokespersons and senators treated the two bills as two aspects of the same issue.