Employers in Alabama and Indiana take note: if you have policies that forbid weapons on company property, including parking lots, you will need to be amending your handbooks. Legislatures in those states have recently restricted employer private property rights by passing laws that allow employees to keep guns in locked cars in company parking lots.
In Alabama, at the urging of the NRA, the senate voted 26 to 2 to allow guns in cars at work. The Business Council of Alabama and other employer groups opposed the law.
The news article reporting this story notes that the vote came two weeks after a professor Amy Bishop was charged with fatally shooting three colleagues at the University of Alabama. The bill exempts electric utilities at the request of Alabama Power Co., as well as universities and other public employers. The fact that Bishop had a gun despite policies against guns shows that prohibitions are not necessarily effective.
Last week, Indiana legislators passed a similar measure allowing guns in work parking lots:
"As a lobbyist from the National Rifle Association watched from the gallery Thursday, the House voted 75-20 in favor of the bill. A few hours later, the Senate voted for it 41-9.
They couldn't have timed it any worse. The next day, an angry worker at the Department of Workforce Development in Portage walked out to his car, grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, and fired into his office. No one was hurt."
The incident that the article describes -- an employee who retrieved a gun from his car and opened fire after a job review
-- is an example of a scenario that many employers have said they fear:
On Friday, 16 employees were in the office in a strip mall located in the downtown area, police said. The suspect had been called into a manager's office for a job review, became upset, left the building and took a 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun from his vehicle and returned to the building, Portage police Sgt. Keith Hughes said.
In Indiana, there are exemptions to the law
: "Employers will still be able to ban guns from parking lots at schools, child-care facilities, domestic-violence shelters, jails, private residences, chemical facilities subject to federal anti-terrorism standards, nuclear facilities, investor-owned utilities' generation and transmission facilities, and in personal vehicles used to transport people with developmental disabilities."
It's also worth noting that most state and federal chambers where such decisions are made are exempt from the so-called "guns at work" laws.
Texas vetoed similar legislation
Last June, the state legislature in Texas voted against a similar "guns at work" law. In addition, in the face of strong student and administration protests against such a measure, the Texas legislature rejected a "guns on campus" bill. Since the Virginia Tech campus massacre, similar bills have surfaced in various states around the country, but to our knowledge, all have been defeated. Utah is currently the only state that allows concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns on university and colleges campuses. (See more about Guns on campus)
State gun laws
We can't vouch for how current or accurate any of these sources are, but here are some resources for researching your state gun laws.
State gun laws - the Brady Campaign
Stare Gun Laws - the NRA
State handgun laws
Prior posts on guns at work
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: guns in your company parking lot
Florida law: It's now OK to keep guns in your car on work property
Should employers have the right to ban guns at work?