NRA's Cox Pushes Tennessee Legislation That Would Force Employers To Allow Guns In Workplace Parking Lots

National Rifle Association chief lobbyist, columnist, and Daily Caller contributor Chris Cox is currently pushing for Tennessee state legislation that would prevent employers from banning their employees from storing guns in their vehicles in company parking lots while opposing any compromise that would allow employer exemptions for special circumstances. Tennessee business leaders and law enforcement groups oppose the legislation.

NRA-Backed Legislation Would Forbid Employers From Banning Guns In Their Parking Lots

Proposed Tennessee Legislation Would “Force Employers To Permit Workers To Store Firearms In Vehicles Parked On Company Lots.” From the Associated Press:

The National Rifle Association is headed for a showdown with the state's Republican lawmakers over proposed limitations to a measure that seeks to force employers to permit workers to store firearms in vehicles parked on company lots. [Association Press, 3/6/12]

Bill Provides Exemptions Only For Employees Banned From Possessing Firearms Or In Locations Where Firearms Are Expressly Prohibited By Federal Law. From the Tennessee General Assembly's summary of H.B. 3560:

With certain exceptions discussed below, this bill prohibits a business entity or owner, manager or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer from establishing, maintaining, or enforcing a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person's transportation or storage of a firearm or ammunition when:

(1) The firearm or ammunition: is kept from ordinary observation within the person's attended, privately-owned motor vehicle; or is kept from ordinary observation and locked within the trunk, glove box, or interior of the person's privately owned motor vehicle or a container securely affixed to such vehicle; and

(2) The vehicle is operated or parked in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.


This bill will not apply if:

(1) The person operating the motor vehicle is prohibited from possessing, receiving, or transporting firearms under state or federal law or by any court order, including specific state statutes regarding the unlawful possession of a weapon and possessing a handgun while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;

(2) The motor vehicle is located in any place where firearms are expressly prohibited by federal law. [H.B. 3560 summary, accessed 3/8/12]

Cox Has Urged Tennessee Lawmakers Not To Compromise On Legislation

Cox: Businesses Must “Surrender Some Rights” If Their Property Is Accessible To The Public. From the Associated Press:

The state's Republican leaders have proposed exempting some businesses from the law after vocal opposition from business groups and the state's police chiefs. The NRA's chief lobbyist, Chris W. Cox, demanded Monday in a letter to state lawmakers that the original bill be adopted without any changes. [...]

When businesses invite the public on their property, they surrender some rights to ensure the safety of their customers," Cox said in the letter. “If these businesses cannot guarantee safety in publicly accessible parking lots, members of the public must be able to defend themselves. [Associated Press, 3/6/12]

Cox: Republican-Backed Legislative Compromises Allowing Business Specific Exemptions Modeled After A Similar Georgia Law Would Incorporate “Several Of The Worst Aspects” Of That Legislation. From the Associated Press:

Cox, in his letter, blasted the effort led by state House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick [R-Chattanooga] to include what he called “several of the worst aspects” of the Georgia law. [Associated Press, 3/6/12]

Georgia Legislation “Carved Out Several Exemptions, Such As Secure Parking Areas And Visitors' Parking Spots” and Takes Into Account Disciplinary Actions Taken Against Employees. From the Associated Press:

[Senate Speaker Ron] Ramsey [R-Blountville] has said he wants the measure to apply only to people with handgun carry permits, and he and fellow Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville have called for incorporating several exceptions provided for in a 2008 Georgia law that carved out several exemptions, such as secure parking areas and visitors' parking spots. Georgia also allows employers to ban workers from bringing weapons onto company property if they have been subject to disciplinary action. [Associated Press, 3/6/12]

Georgia Legislation Exempts Prisons, Power Plants, And Other Sensitive Workplaces. Georgia House Bill 89 states that it does not apply in the following circumstances, among others:

(2) To any penal institution, correctional institution, detention facility, diversion center, jail, or similar place of confinement or confinement alternative;

(3) To facilities associated with electric generation owned or operated by a public utility [...]

(7) To parking lots contiguous to facilities providing natural gas transmission, liquid petroleum transmission, water storage and supply, and law enforcement services determined to be so vital to the State of Georgia, by a written determination of the Georgia Department of Homeland Security, that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on public health or safety; [Georgia General Assembly, accessed 3/6/12]

Coalition Of Business Leaders And Law Enforcement Organizations Oppose Tennessee Legislation

Businesses Leaders And Law Enforcement Organizations Sent A Letter To All Members Of The Tennessee Legislature Opposing The Bill's “Major Infringement On Private Property Rights.” From the Associated Press:

A coalition of business and law enforcement groups is urging lawmakers to abandon a bill that would allow employees to store guns in their vehicles at work, calling the proposal a “major infringement on private property rights.”

The letter, which was sent to all 132 lawmakers on Thursday, said the legislation aims to curtail the rights of private property owners by “forcing them to allow firearms to be carried onto their premises -- even if the property owner objects.” [...]

The Tennessee Bankers Association and the Hospital Alliance of Tennessee are among the 18 entities in the letter, which also includes the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. [Associated Press, 3/1/12]

Experts: Workplaces That Allow Guns Are More Likely To Experience Homicides

Epidemiologists: Workplaces Where Guns Were Permitted Up To Seven Times More Likely To Experience A Worker Homicide. In a 2005 article published in the American Journal Of Public Health, professors Dan Loomis, Stephen W. Marshall, and Myduc L. Ta, all with the Department of Epidemiology and the Injury Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina, discussed the results of their study of workplace violence in North Carolina. They found that “workplaces where guns were specifically permitted were 5 to 7 times more likely to be the site of a worker homicide relative to those where all weapons were prohibited.” From the article:

In this study, the risk of a worker being killed at work was substantially higher in workplaces where employer policy allowed workers to keep guns: workplaces where guns were specifically permitted were 5 to 7 times more likely to be the site of a worker homicide relative to those where all weapons were prohibited. Only a small increase in the risk of homicide was associated with workplaces that allowed weapons other than guns. After we adjusted for workplace characteristics and preventive measures, further analysis suggested that the increased risk associated with employer policies allowing guns was not completely explained by either characteristics of the workplace that may be indicative of its inherent “riskiness” or employers' failure to adopt recommended protections. [AJPH, “Employer Policies Toward Guns And Risk Of Homicide In The Workplace,”, 5/05]

Risk Management Consultant: “Statistics Offer Significant Preponderance In Favor Of The Banning Of Weapons At Work.” According to Patricia Kotze, managing partner at Diversified Risk Management, Inc.:

Workplace violence is a serious problem in the U.S. According to one study, 77% of homicides committed in the U.S. workplace involved firearms. This growing crisis is of paramount concern to security service providers, Human Resource managers, and is creating a potential legal dilemma: the risk of forbidding employees who legally have the right to carry concealed weapons from doing so could open companies to legal exposure. A study published by the American Journal of Public Health in 2005 found that employers allowing people to bring guns to work were up to seven times more likely to incur cases of workplace homicide versus employers with strict “no-gun” policies. The liabilities of employers with either type of policy are considerable, but limiting the liability is a must; statistics offer significant preponderance in favor of the banning of weapons at work. [Guns at Work in these Wild, Wild United States, 9/14/2008]