By ALICIA LEONARD
Florida businesses fought and failed to derail a bill allowing employees and customers the right to have a firearm on business owners property last week. Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill into law on April 15 that will allow many to carry personal firearms in their vehicle to work or to shop.
Some sites are still off limits, such as schools, prisons, military facilities, nuclear power plants and any building that stores explosives.
The bill gives employees and visitors to a business the right to keep a legally-owned gun locked inside their cars as long as the gun owner has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Per published sources, “The bill, approved overwhelmingly by the House and Senate, clears the way for 500,000 concealed weapon permit-holders to keep guns locked in their cars at work.
Business owners retaliated by filing a federal lawsuit on April 22 to have the law declared unconstitutional. The Florida Retail Foundation Inc. as well as the Florida Chamber of Commerce Inc. filed suit against the Florida Attorney General in the U.S. District Court of the North District of Florida. The suit alleges that that the law is in unconstitutional.
Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber made the following public statement about the law and the suit filed on their behalf, “This law is unnecessary and a violation of the private property rights provided by the Constitution. We are taking this action to restore what 80 percent of Florida voters believe to be true — that a business owner should be able to decide if employees can or cannot brings guns on their property.”
Marion Hammer lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA) quickly shot back a response regarding the suit and told news outlets, “Doing that would be slapping the Legislature in the face. We know they think they’re better than their customers and employees. Now they think they’re better than the Florida Legislature and the governor, as well. Apparently, their arrogance knows no bounds.” The bills passing marked an end to the three-year push by the NRA for passage.
In order to apply for a concealed weapons permit in Florida one must undergo a class teaching ammunitions, firearms safety, laws concerning firearms, live fire training, range proficiency and a final exit exam by a licensed instructor.
Sgt. Andy Casavant from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) said the new law won’t have that much impact on employers or employees. “The laws in Florida already let someone carry a firearm in their car as long as it’s ‘encased’ and those with concealed weapons permits are already allowed to carry without anyone knowing to allowed areas. So this law could help employees not have to face retribution from an employer but it’s not going to change that much.”