Home > Gun rights, Property Rights, South Dakota > Gun rights versus property rights: South Dakota House Bill 1129

Gun rights versus property rights: South Dakota House Bill 1129

January 22, 2013

Leomarc_sign_no_parkingToday was the first reading for South Dakota House Bill 1129. Bills like HB1129 have been popping up around the country for a while now and are often called a “parking lot bill”. The full language of this bill can be read at the end of this post. This bill is summarized by the following title:

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to prohibit businesses and employers from establishing certain policies against the ability of an invitee or employee to store firearms and ammunition in a locked motor vehicle parked on the premises.

First I will look at what I believe this bill intends to do: protect 2nd amendment rights. As a libertarian I understand and fully support the right to bear arms. Included in the right to bear arms is the fundamental right of self-defense. Employers that prohibit firearms on their property remove the ability of employee to protect themselves using firearms. It is becoming more commonplace for employers create an “absolutely no guns allowed on this property” policy. Gun rights activists have taken this as an attack on their right to bear arms and have been trying to get as many states as possible to enact “parking lot bills”.

The Second Amendment restricts the government from infringing upon the human-born right to keep and bear arms. However the Second Amendment does not does not restrict private property owners in such a manner. In fact it is well within the rights of a property owner to prohibit firearms while on their property. Parking lot gun bills try to force property owners to give up their rights. Another example is free speech. I can write on my blog that Company X is bad because they engage in crony capitalism. I can ask for others to join me in boycotting Company X. However if I go on the private property of Company X and start talking bad about them it is within their right to have me removed from the property. The constitutionally protected rights of an individual do not allow that individual to override the individual rights of another individual.

It is within the rights of a business such as Company X to enact a “no guns allowed on the premises” rule. I think companies making such rules are silly and short-sighted. However, no matter how I feel about such rules I agree they are well within their rights.

At the same time it is well within the rights of an individual choose different employment. Employment is voluntary; or as it is often called: “at will”. If an employee disagrees with the gun policy of a company they are well within their rights to terminate their employment with that company. I think it’s a good idea for employees to leave such a company, and let them you know why your leaving on the way out.

It is important for gun right advocates to remember that the right to bear arms does not override the rights of other individuals. Don’t get me wrong, I am a gun owner and advocate personal security. However I cannot support legislation that reduces property rights from individuals and business owners in South Dakota.

*** Updated **** Even though I use employee as an example here, the same principle applies to anyone entering the business owners property (including customers, vendors, etc..) I still think its a silly thing for companies to do, but within their rights. 

HOUSE BILL NO. 1129

Introduced by: Representatives Russell, Greenfield, Kaiser, Miller, Nelson, and Olson (Betty) and Senators Otten (Ernie) and Monroe

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to prohibit businesses and employers from establishing certain policies against the ability of an invitee or employee to store firearms and ammunition in a locked motor vehicle parked on the premises.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1. No business or other public or private employer may establish, maintain, or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits any person from transporting or storing, on any area provided for invitee or employee parking or in any other public place, a firearm or ammunition if the person is otherwise in compliance with all applicable state statutes and rules and the firearm or ammunition is locked out of sight within the trunk, glove box, or other compartment or area within a privately-owned motor vehicle.

Section 2. Any person who is legally entitled to transport or store a firearm or ammunition, but is denied the opportunity to do so by a policy or rule prohibited by section 1 of this Act, may bring a civil action in the appropriate court to enjoin any business entity or other public or private employer from violating section 1 of this Act. In any actions brought pursuant to this section, court costs and attorney fees shall be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff.

Section 3. Any employee discharged by any business or other public or private employer for a violation of a policy or rule prohibited by section 1 of this Act, if the employee was lawfully transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition out of plain sight in a locked motor vehicle is entitled to the recovery of the following:

(1) Reinstatement to the same position held at the time of his or her termination from employment, or to an equivalent position;

(2) Reinstatement of the employee’s full fringe benefits and seniority rights;

(3) Compensation for lost wages, benefits, or other lost remuneration caused by the termination; and

(4) Payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and legal costs incurred.

Section 4. No business or other public or private employer may be held liable in any civil action for damages, injuries, or death resulting from or arising out of another person’s actions involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored pursuant to this Act including the theft of a firearm from an employee’s or invitee’s automobile, unless the business or other public or private employer solicited or procured the injurious actions.

  1. January 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Pretty sensible for a libertarian! I’m encouraged to read such an honest effort to reconcile competing rights instead of adopting one right as an absolute.

    • Ken Santema
      January 23, 2013 at 10:14 am

      Haha, I’m gonna save that quote: “Pretty sensible for a libertarian!’. This is actually the type of post I want to do more of, just don’t have time…

  2. January 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    This is a discussion worth having. We’ve already seen the voters of this state infringe on the rights of business owners by imposing a ban on smoking on their private property and we’ve also seen the legislature derail legislation that would protect property owners from warrant-less trespassing by GF&P officers (except in certain instances such as when there is reason to believe a crime is being perpetrated).

    So without any doubt, there are several historical precedents we can point to where private property rights have been infringed upon in our state.

    However, that being said…How exactly does allowing a gun to be locked in a glove compartment or trunk of a privately owned vehicle actually infringe on the property rights of the land-owner or business-owner ?

    After all, it’s not like they are even going to know the gun is there to begin with, so you can’t really argue that it’s causing them ‘mental distress’ or preventing the use and enjoyment of their property or business.

    The one part of the bill that baffles me though is the part where it talks about preventing the employer from firing the employee for having a firearm in their locked vehicle that is “out of plain sight”.

    How exactly is it that an employer would be able to able justify firing someone when the weapon is “out of plain sight” in a locked vehicle ? Obviously if they can see the weapon inside the car or truck, it’s not really ‘out of plain sight’ now, is it ?

    • Ken Santema
      January 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      The two examples you mention have definitely eroded property rights. On the plus I will say that South Dakota abuses eminent domain less than other states. It still exists here, but nowhere near I was seeing while living in high population states.

      This is a tough one for me because I feel strongly about both property rights and right to bear arms. The way this bill is written it pits the two rights against each other. If an employer (or any land owner) posts a sign saying “no guns allowed on this property” the wishes of that landowner needs to be respected. Respect and honesty are critical values that make society work. Dishonesty (even for the right reasons) in this case shows a lack of respect for property rights and the rule of law.

      Now if I were to write a bill such as this I would take a different approach. I would make this a privacy issue for the owner of the car. Instead of making a bill that says “businesses cannot restrict gun owners” I would create a bill that says “any items secured within the personal transportation (cars, trucks, etc..) of a law-abiding individual while in a parking lot for a business shall have the same rights to privacy as at the car owners primary residence”. The key part to this is that the transportation is secured (locked) and it is turned into a privacy right. As long as the employee (or whoever) keeps their car secured and that person acts lawfully then the contents hidden away in the car are off-limits to the property owner.

      There would still be some possible problems with this approach. However it stops making this a gun-rights versus property rights issue. Instead it focuses upon the right of reasonable privacy for the owner of the car. There would also still be the dishonesty issue if employees brought firearms onto the property. But this may be a better approach that would get wider support.

      Having said that it still annoys me that business owners have these policies of “no guns on the premises”. I share your bafflement over an employer firing someone over something that is secured out of plain sight. I think back to the AutoZone employee that got fired after using a weapon from his car to confront a gunman. The manager was very grateful to the employee, but had to fire him because of company policy. This very situation showed how silly (and potentially dangerous) a “no guns allowed on the premises” policy can be.

  3. ANON
    January 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    “How exactly is it that an employer would be able to able justify firing someone when the weapon is “out of plain sight” in a locked vehicle ?”
    Since when does an employer have to justify why they fire anybody?

    • Ken Santema
      January 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      I agree with anon on this. An employer should be free to fire anyone for any reason (even stupid reasons). Looking back at the AutoZone case there were a lot of customers that left them after that firing. But then I’ve seen sources that show they may have gained enough pro-gun-control customers to offset that. Employers just have to keep in mind that even if they can fire anyone for any reason it may not be smart to do so.

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