Whose rights matter? NRA targets GOP legislators
It’s usually the “liberal Democrats” who take heat over Second Amendment issues, but now it’s GOP legislators in Tennessee who are feeling the wrath of the nation’s highest-profile gun rights organization, the National Rifle Association.

The NRA learned of a problem in Oklahoma several years ago when some co-workers had planned to go do some target shooting one day after work. When their boss learned they had guns in their cars, they were fired, due to workplace rules against weapons on company property. In another Oklahoma case, 12 workers were fired when the company found they had firearms stored in their locked vehicles parked on company property. It’s a conflict between the property rights of the business owners and the Constitutional rights of their employees.

Almost every state has a provision for citizens to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons and keep them in their vehicles.

The state of Oklahoma eventually passed laws protecting employees’ rights and protecting their employers from liability.

A state law was needed because the federal government does not typically act to defend citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

Other states have passed similar laws forbidding employers from interfering with the legal possession of a firearm in their employees’ locked vehicles, but Tennessee’s GOP leaders decided to do the bidding of the employers instead.

Employers maintain their responsibility to provide a safe work place, and that their rights as owners of the workplace property are more important than their employees’ rights.

In Tennessee this year, the Republican-controlled legislature sided with business owners, and the NRA is responding by contributing to a challenger to the number three Republican in the state House.

But Tennessee isn’t alone. The NRA also ran into Republican roadblocks in Georgia, Alabama, Idaho and North Carolina this year.

In Alabama, a similar parking lot bill introduced by a Republican member got out of committee but failed to pass the chamber. A bill introduced in the House by a Democrat was killed in committee.

Why did the bills fail? It could have something to do with the Business Council of Alabama.

In the BCA’s 2012 State Legislative Agenda, the group stated, among other things, that it would actively oppose any legislation restricting the employers’ right to restrict firearm possession on company property. The BCA was apparently successful in that effort in this year’s legislative session.

Part of the Republican Party’s success with working class voters has been its positions on social issues, including opposition to gun control, but critics paint the GOP as the party that looks out for the rich.

It’ll be interesting to see what Alabama’s Republicans do with this issue before the 2014 elections.

© 2012