The Missouri House has just passed a bill that would take away business owners’ ability to ban firearms in parking lots. Businesses can still maintain gun-free zones within the actual places of business, so employees can still refuse service to anybody carrying a firearm. The bill simply takes parking lots out of businesses’ jurisdiction, so to speak, by giving gun owners the freedom to keep guns in their parked cars.
Company-owned cars are a special exception to the rule. Employees will not be able to keep firearms in company cars if the business maintains a no-guns policy.
Gun rights advocates shouldn’t celebrate just yet – the bill will have to make its way through the Senate before it becomes law, and there’s always the threat of a veto.
This bill is great for gun rights proponents, but it’s kind of a double-edged sword. The bill promotes individual Second Amendment rights at the expense of private property rights. Business owners could lose the ability to regulate their own property. Shouldn’t the person who owns the parking lot be able to decide who or what enters the property? Why can a business owner kick a gun owner out of his store but not off of his parking lot?
This is particularly troublesome because many gun rights proponents also promote individual property and privacy rights. When these two rights conflict with one another, gun rights proponents suddenly have to choose sides.
Generally, individuals’ privacy rights trump other Constitutional rights. For example, a person has the right to kick somebody out of his home for any reason whatsoever – that includes not liking guests who carry firearms. That generally applies in privately owned businesses, but with this bill it wouldn’t apply in parking lots.
Of course, this bill also has practicality on its side. A gun owner can certainly respect a business’ policy even if he doesn’t agree with it, leaving his weapon behind as he enters a guns-free establishment. If he can't take it in with him, where else would a gun owner store a weapon besides his car?
It’s hard to predict the future of the bill, especially since gun owners have reason to oppose it. As important as gun rights are to some people, is the right to do whatever you please on your own private property even more important?