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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'Guns-to-work' wins court victory

29

July

A federal judge in Tallahassee has declined to block the new "guns-to-work" law, but only when it applies to employees. The judge did restrict a provision allowing customers and visitors to do the same, and he indicated major problems with the way the law was crafted. (ruling here)

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business interests were seeking an injunction against the law, which went into effect July 1. The law, three years in the making by the National Rifle Association, allows employees with concealed weapons permits to bring guns with them and leave them locked in cars.

Business interests tried to portray the ruling as a victory because Judge Hinkle did not say gun owners had a constitutional right to bring weapons to work, only a limited statutory one. “For those of us who for three years have been saying that the constitution is on the side of property owner, we’ve been proven right today,” said Mark Wilson, executive director of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The NRA and Chamber battled for three years, causing an awkward and politically precarious situation for the Republican-controlled Legislature. The break came this spring when the bill was amended to pertain only to employees with concealed weapons permits.

But now it could be headed back to the Legislature. Wilson suggested lawmakers may now be more easily persuaded to revisit the law.  “We have the high ground now because it’s not a constitutional issue,” added Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.

“The bottom line of all this is that we’ve concerned about our employees’ safety and the safety of our business,” McAllister said. “We know the fewer guns that there are, the better.”

Still, the NRA has reason to gloat. The main thrust of the debate during the past three legislative sessions has been over whether employees can bring weapons to work and less so about customers. In that sense, the NRA landed a significant victory.

"This is a huge win for the people," said NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:04am]

    

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