The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local Business

January 24, 2011

NRA wants Indiana lawmakers to ban employers from gun-related questions

INDIANAPOLIS — The National Rifle Association has targeted Indiana’s “parking lot” gun law, saying employers are willfully violating the 6-month-old law that prohibits them from banning weapons on company-owned parking lots.

The NRA has asked its members to contact Indiana lawmakers to urge them to support new legislation that would allow employers to be sued if they require applicants to disclose information about gun ownership or require employees to reveal if they have weapons or ammunition in their cars.

It’s one of a handful of gun-related bills in the Indiana Legislature supported by the NRA. The organization also supports a bill that would remove all “grandfathered” protections that allowed Indiana cities and towns to have more stringent gun laws than the state.

The author of Senate Bill 411, dubbed “the Parking Lot 2.0 bill” by the NRA, is state Sen. Johnny Nugent of Lawrenceburg. Nugent said he expects a repeat of last year’s arguments that pit the NRA against business interests that advocated that employers had personal property rights that allowed them to forbid firearms on company property.

“I’ve been a strong supporter of individual property rights,” Nugent said. “I understand how employers might feel the way they do. But there are things that trump those property rights, and one of them is the defense of my life.”

In the 2010 session, NRA lobbyists argued that citizens had a constitutional right to self-protection that doesn’t stop when they drive onto their employer’s property.

Indiana lawmakers agreed and passed a bill that allowed employees to keep their legally permitted firearms in their locked vehicles while parked on company property. The law allowed some employers, including schools and day care operators, to be exempt.

But the law failed to address what employers could do to find out if their workers had guns in their cars, or what action they could take to verify those guns were legally permitted.

In response, some employers have created designated parking areas for employees who carry guns in their cars and have begun asking employees to provide more information about those guns, including serial numbers.

George Raymond, vice president of human resources and labor relations at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said employers are struggling to abide by a vaguely written law.

He said the proposed legislation, Senate Bill 411, creates more confusion, especially for the employers who are allowed under the 2010 law to ban firearms from vehicles on their property.

“We’re opposed to the bill, just as we were to last year’s bill,” Raymond said.

The NRA, in an advisory sent to its members recently, contends “numerous Indiana employers, both large and small, have falsely declared themselves exempt” from the 2010 law, which went into effect last July.

The NRA also contends some Indiana employers have created “onerous requirements” of gun-owning employees, including requiring employees to provide detailed descriptions of weapons in their vehicles.

State Sen. Lindel Hume, a Democrat from Princeton, voted for the 2010 bill that allows workers to store firearms in their vehicles while at work. He said he’d likely support legislation that would ban employers from asking job applicants about gun ownership.  

Testimony on the bill is scheduled today by the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters.

Maureen Hayden is Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI’s Indiana newspapers. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

 

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