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TN Chamber’s Statement of Opposition to ‘Guns in Workplace’ Bill

Letter to Tennessee General Assembly Lawmakers, 1 March 2012; Distributed by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

Members of the 107th General Assembly Tennessee State Capitol

Dear Senator/ Representative:

Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms have long recognized the value of firearms to protect life, liberty and property. But in Tennessee, proposals before the Legislature use the 2nd Amendment to produce the opposite effect: The cause of gun rights is being used to attack property rights.

Tennessee has enacted legislation that wisely affirms personal freedom by letting law-abiding citizens obtain permits to carry handguns. But this year, that privilege is being used to attack the rights of private property owners. SB2992/HB 3559 and SB3002/HB 3560 are both aimed at curtailing 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 bills even go farther, allowing a person to have a weapon on private property even when the person does not have the right to be on the premises.

The proposed “guns in the parking lot” bills actually have a much broader reach – pulling in any business entity, owner/manager/possessor of real property or public or private employer. It makes it illegal for them to have or enforce a policy restricting firearms in vehicles parked on their private property.

Under current law, private property owners and employers have the authority to make the rules on their own premises. But when it comes to guns, this legislation would take away that freedom. If an employer or property owner – from a retail store to a factory to a daycare center to a hospital to an educational institution – wishes to prohibit individuals or employees from bringing firearms on their property, they should have the right to do so.

This proposed law is a major infringement on private property rights. There is no right in the state or federal Constitution to have a gun on someone else’s property. This is not a place where the government should substitute its judgment for that of the property owners. Decisions about their own safety, as well as that of their customers and employees, should be the property owner’s to make.

This is a year in which both lawmakers and citizens are calling for government to stop the excessive regulation of our lives and our businesses. Supporters of this legislation argue that this enhances individual rights, but you cannot expand rights for one person by restricting the rights of another. And you cannot use more government regulation to create less regulation.

We urge you to oppose SB 2992/HB 3559 and SB 3002/HB 3560.

Sincerely,

Associated Builders and Contractors,
Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee,
Hospital Alliance of Tennessee,
Knoxville Chamber of Commerce,
Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports,
Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police,
Tennessee Bankers Association,
Tennessee Business Roundtable,
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry,
Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation,
Tennessee Hospital Association,
Tennessee Hospitality Association,
Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities,
Association Tennessee Paper Council,
Tennessee Petroleum Council,
Tennessee Public and Teaching Hospital,
Association Tennessee Railroads Inc.,
Tennessee Retail Association,