A new piece of legislation introduced in Georgia may confound some security directors wanting to keep guns fully out of their facilities and off their campuses.
The proposed bill, GA House bill 998, which has been reviewed and rewritten/substituted by the House Committee on Public Safety, allows licensed gun owners to legally bring weapons into the parking lot as long as the weapons stay locked in the vehicle. The bill also would give the person or business owner of the parking lot civil immunity from the presence and/or use of the gun (as long as they weren't involved in the use of the weapon). The law is specifically written to supersede and repeal any previous legislation or company policies that would have prohibited bringing a weapon in a car onto a business' campus.
The issue of whether a company can prohibit a gun from being secured in a vehicle and parked in a company parking lot is one that has come up recently in Oklahoma, which also decided that companies can't block licensed gun owners from securely storing their guns in their cars while parked on company lots.
When the Oklahoma law was proposed and made effective, a number of Oklahoma companies, including Whirlpool, ConocoPhillips and Williams Cos. sought an injunction against the law, citing OSHA "hazard-free workplace" concerns. That lawsuit, however, has not been resolved and as of early February was still active.
The Oklahoma issue follows an earlier instance in 2002 when workers form the Weyerhaeuser were fired for violating a company prohibition of employees keeping guns in their parked cars. The 2004 Oklahoma law responded to the Weyerhaeuser firings and was written in such a way that it would prevent workers from being fired if they were to legally carry a gun (secured, registered, licensed) in their vehicle.
The issue has been raised among members of Atlanta's ASIS chapter, but as of Feb. 22, no chapter decision had been made in favor or against the law. As the executive committee noted in a publication to members, the issue is one that can create "spirited" debate, especially as it mixes security concerns with second amendment privileges.
The full text of the proposed legislation HB 998 is printed below, as it stands on Feb. 22, 2006:
The House Committee on Public Safety offers the following substitute to HB 998:
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
To amend Part 3 of Article 4 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to carrying and possession of firearms, so as to provide a short title; to provide for legislative intent; to provide a definition; to provide that it shall be lawful for any person who may lawfully possess firearms to park a motor vehicle on any property set aside for the parking of a motor vehicle when the person is lawfully transporting and storing a firearm or firearms in the motor vehicle and the firearm or firearms are locked in or locked to the motor vehicle; to provide for certain civil immunity for occurrences which result from, are connected with, or are incidental to the use of a firearm which is being lawfully transported and stored in a locked motor vehicle on any property set aside for the parking of motor vehicles; to provide for an exception to such immunity; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA: