Florida law solving the Parking Lot Ban takes effect

By Jim Irvine

A law that protects the right of Floridians to keep their guns locked in their personal vehicles at work took effect on July 1. HB503 will prevent employers from searching cars and firing employees for having guns or a concealed weapons license.

Too often people in other states look to Florida’s good firearms laws and wish we could pass good laws so easily. It’s not always as easy as it seems.

From the June 2008 “First Freedom” magazine:

It was a long and hard-fought battle. In 2006, the legislation died in committee. In 2007, House committee members rejected the bill just two days after the tragic mass murders at Virginia Tech.

This year, Florida NRA members and gun owners turned up the heat, swamping legislators with letters and e-mails like a Miami hurricane.

State Rep. Greg Evers, sponsor of H.B. 503 and State Sen. Durell Peaden, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill (S.B. 1130), along with Rep. Dean Cannon, who negotiated the substitute bill through the House, all reported receiving 3,000 to 4,000 e-mails about the legislation – virtually all supporting it – in March alone.

The bill will prohibit employers and businesses from:

  • Searching private vehicles for guns.
  • Prohibiting employees from having guns locked in cars in company parking lots.
  • discriminating against concealed weapons license holders (firing or refusal to hire).
  • Discriminating against a license holder who uses a gun for self-defense.
  • Ordering customers with a gun to leave a parking lot.
  • Having good gun bills die multiple sessions in a row and then passing a “compromised” version is something gun owners in Ohio and other states are used to. Looking at the great bills being passed in Florida it’s easy to overlook the fact that they have had the same frustrations. The real difference is that all other states are 1-30 years behind any particular battle, and eventually each new law.

    The original bill would have protected all law-abiding gun owners. Many aspects of the passed bill will only protect concealed carry license holders. While Representative Greg Evers fought to keep the bill as strong as possible, in the end concessions were needed to secure passage of the bill.

    While it would have been better to secure these protections for all gun owners, securing them for some gun owners is far better than walking away with nothing. We solute our friends in the Florida legislature for making a good deal. They will be back in future sessions to expand the rights secured this year.

    This is another example of why all gun owners need to stick together. Hunters did not get as much out of this legislation as concealed carry license holders. When the law is expanded, concealed carry license holders will not benefit while other gun owners will. By working together, all gun owners can benefit by helping any sub-group of gun owners restore firearms rights.

    Anti-gun groups, led by the powerful Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Retail Federation have vowed to fight the new law. They have already committed over $250,000 to the fight.

    So here we have the Florida legislature voting with their grassroots constituents, not the “Powerful and rich business lobby.” Of course the anti-gun biased media reports probably will not report it as such.

    Representative Evers has been on MSNBC and on CNN defending his bill from attacks. For all their crying, the anti-self-defense groups, including Disney (Florida’s largest employer) can not explain who will protect you on your way to an anti-gun business, or why they should have the right to deny anyone their Second Amendment rights.

    Pro-gun forces need to realize the power that comes with being involved. Even in Florida, this common sense piece of legislation died several years in a row. But it is now law because the grassroots became more involved. Not even the powerful lobbyists from the states largest employer with all of their money can stop progress when the grassroots is unified in a common cause.

    We thank our friends in Florida for once again leading the way. As with “right to carry” and “Castle Doctrine” and all the other improvements they have made, those of us in the rest of the country will work to pass similar legislation in our states.

    Read the bill as passed (9 pages)

    Related News:
    Louisiana Becomes Third State in 2008 to Restrict
    Employer’s Right to Limit Guns on Company Property

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