Push for Parking Lot Gun Laws in the Carolinas
While politicians talk about controlling firearms, some local gun rights supporters are pushing for more freedoms.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - They're called parking lot laws. They allow employees to take their guns to work in their locked, private vehicles while parked in employer provided parking areas. Guns would still not be allowed in the employers building. 16 states have such laws, North & South carolina do not.
"What we're advocating is that employees who've proven themselves sane, sober and law-abiding by virtue of a concealed hand gun permit be allowed to keep firearms in their car so that they're not unprotected all day long," explains Paul Valone, President of Grass Roots North Carolina.
The idea of parking lot laws worries Gail Neely, Executive Director at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. "For safety reasons, it's easy access to a firearm. If you get angry with somebody at work you have easy access. You walk out, you walk back in and there's a workplace shooting," says Neely.
Under current rules, employers who have a "no gun" policy can take action.
"If that's included in an employment contract that could be grounds to terminate someone," explains Attorney Christopher Shelburn.
"People have property rights and Grass Roots North Carolina doesn't mind overrunning someone's First Amendment rights or their property rights or any other rights as long as they have their gun rights," says Neely.
"No right is absolute. If the property right of employers were absolute they could refuse to provide fire exits in their buildings," argues Valone.
Personal safety expert Dan Starks says the no firearms rules put gun owners in a tough position.
"I don't suggest that people break the law, but I suggest what people do is sit down and 'say this is what I am willing to do to protect myself and my family'," says Starks.
Starks believes in states like North and South Carolina in which there are no parking lot laws, employers who impose such bans should be subject to lawsuits.
"If you can't carry a gun to work and on the way home something happens to you where you could have defended yourself I think that there should be legal actions to be able to take against the employer but unfortunately the flavor in the nation right now is not that."
That said, Paul Valone and other gun rights activists say they've been pushing for parking lot laws for some time now and the current climate doesn't change anything.