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Giving thanks for property rights

November 28, 2013 1 comment

I wasn’t going to do a Thanksgiving post this year. But I was reminded of this great video from ReasonTV and decided to post it:

Property rights, now that is something to be thankful of! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

PS. Well, it is Thanksgiving. Can’t let this day go by without the Thanksgiving Song:

Starbucks asks to keep gun activism out of their coffee shops

September 18, 2013 Comments off

johnny_automatic_cup_of_coffeeLast night the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, posted a letter on their on their website. In this letter Mr Schultz asks customers to no longer open carry firearms in their coffee shops. Starbucks has always had a ‘follow local laws’ approach to open carry. If local law permits the open carry of firearms the stores would allow it, in accordance with those laws. I believe this stance is sensible and the company should be commended for the policy. However this policy has also caused it to be a focus point for gun rights activists and gun control activists. As a result Starbucks is asking people to no longer open carry firearms in their coffee shops or outside in the deck areas.

As a gun rights activists I fully support Starbucks in their decision. It is worth noting Starbucks is NOT implementing a gun ban on their premises. They are simply requesting that customers not open carry firearms in their stores. It is their right to take this stance and activists should respect their rights as property owners (see my previous post on gun rights versus property rights). Starbucks request that customers no longer open carry will not impact my view of the company. I will still go at least once a week and enjoy a Venti Caffè Mocha. I would ask other activists (on both sides of the debate) to respect Starbucks request and leave their company out of the debate.

In closing I think it is worth posting Mr Schultz’s final words in his letter:

I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.

Well said Mr Schultz!

Celebrating the Third Amendment

May 26, 2013 Comments off

AP_Documents_BillofRightsIt seems as a liberty blogger I am always highlighting civil liberties being under attack. Today I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight one of the few Amendments from the Bill of Rights that does not come under constant attack: The Third Amendment. Here is the text of the Third Amendment:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

This Amendment is pretty straightforward: the government cannot force citizens to house soldiers. In today’s world this amendment almost seems silly, since it would be unlikely to happen. However in the past this was a very important amendment.

Petition_of_Right

Before looking at why this amendment is still relevant it is worth looking at the history of the Third Amendment. Much of the information from below comes from the Bill of Rights Institute’s Americapedia.

Back in 1628 King Charles I disbanded Parliament so he could rule England on his own. Parliament understandably was not happy with this move. Sir Edward Coke presented the “Petition of Right” to King Charles I on behalf of Parliament and English citizens. At its core the Petition of Right drew upon the Magna Carta to remind the King that the rights of English citizens came from the rule of law, and not from the King. It’s worth noting that King Charles did accept the Petition of Rights. But, after he continued with the same unlawful behavior King Charles I was beheaded in 1649.

The relevant passage from the Petition of Right is:

VI. And whereas of late great companies of soldiers and mariners have been dispersed into divers counties of the realm, and the inhabitants against their wills have been compelled to receive them into their houses, and there to suffer them to sojourn against the laws and customs of this realm, and to the great grievance and vexation of the people.

English_Bill_of_Rights_of_1689Now to move forward in time just slightly. In 1689 the English Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament to limit the power of the crown. In order to rule King and Queen William and Mary of Orange had to accept the terms of the English Bill of Rights. Much of protections found later in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights can be traced directly back to this document. Included in the English Bill of Rights is the following grievance against King James the Second:

By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law;

The wording of this grievance in the English Bill of Rights is very similar to the language used in the Third Amendment.

Us_declaration_independenceNow we move on to the new world. In 1765 England passed the Quartering Act. This act, among other things, required the colonists to pay for English troops to be quartered or to provide quarter in areas where barracks were not available. In 1774 the Quartering Act was amended to allow British Troops to be housed wherever they desired. This included private homes of citizens. No consent from homeowners was required.

This leads to one final important document relevant to the Bill of Rights Third Amendment  the Declaration of Independence (I hope most US citizens know this was signed in 1776). In the Indictment section of the Declaration there was one charge against Great Britain and the King relevant tot he Third Amendment:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us

The irony was not lost upon the signers of the Declaration of Independence that less than a century after the signing of the English Bill of Rights that the rights of citizens in the new land were being ignored.

Now that the history of the Third Amendment has been reviewed it is important to note that the US Supreme Court has never taken a case where the direct meaning of the amendment must be determined. (If only the same could be said about other civil rights.)

But that does not mean this Amendment is irrelevant in the modern world. The opposite is true in fact. The Third Amendment is often cited as one of the sources in the US Constitution that provides the right of privacy. An important case utilizing the right of privacy constitutional right is Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). In this decision includes the following text:

The Third Amendment, in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers “in any house” in time of peace without the consent of the owner, is another facet of that privacy.

While the Third Amendment was not a major portion of the decision in this case; it was critical nonetheless in determining the importance of privacy and property rights for US Citizens.

Many arguments used by Second Amendment advocates involves the Third Amendment. The general theory being that the only way to prevent ones property from being unlawfully used by soldiers is to be armed and protect private property. Those believing this argument see the Second and Third Amendments as complementary.

Looking forward I do not expect the Supreme Court to make any decisions directly relating to the Third Amendment. Looking at the history of this Amendment it is quite difficult to see such situations arising that would require troops to take over private citizens homes for quartering. I do however look forward to the Third Amendments possible use as a defense in privacy and Second Amendment cases.

Gun rights versus property rights: South Dakota House Bill 1129

January 22, 2013 12 comments

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.

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