Florida employees may keep guns locked in their cars at work, but customers do not have the same right, Tallahassee U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in July. Hinkle upheld most of Florida’s new “guns-at-work” law, which went into effect July 1, but said it is so badly written that it’s “stupid.”
Meanwhile, some employers are aggressively asserting that they are exempt from the law. Disney World announced to employees in June that the law did not apply on the company’s property because it provides an exemption for employers who deal with explosives. Disney has an explosives permit for its daily, massive fireworks shows.
The Disney announcement set off fireworks of its own, as a security guard told the media that he would bring his gun to work anyway. He did, and Disney fired him.
Universal Studios claimed an exemption because it has a public school on its property. Georgia-Pacific declared its Palatka Mill facility south of Jacksonville exempt because it receives fuel oil deliveries via the St. Johns River. Its facility security plan, which prohibits weapons, is therefore governed by maritime security regulations, the company said.
These end runs around the new law had the National Rifle Association fighting mad. “The problem has been corporate giants who think they can control everything,” said NRA representative Marion Hammer. “They are employers, they are property owners. They are not emperors.”
Georgia and Louisiana recently enacted laws similar to Florida’s. Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota and Oklahoma have had similar laws on the books for several years.
The Society for Human Resource Management filed a friend-of-the court brief in a lawsuit that sought to invalidate the Florida law.
No doubt, this is not the end of the litigation as courts struggle to balance the individual right to bear arms recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court with the right of employers to control the workplace and keep employees safe.
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