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Chris W. Cox's Political Report: Workers Protection Laws--April 2006

Thursday, February 16, 2006

POLITICAL REPORT

CHRIS COX, NRA-ILA Executive Director

The right to defend yourself against violent, criminal attack is a fundamental human right. NRA-ILA is in state capitals, fighting for laws like the Castle Doctrine, which guarantees your right to defend yourself against criminals anywhere you have a right to be. We're also fighting for Workers Protection laws, to prevent employers from discriminating against employees who choose to keep firearms in their locked vehicles while working.

Why are some people so afraid of the basic right of self-defense?

The answer is a mystery to me, you, and millions of other law-abiding gun owners. The right to defend yourself against violent, criminal attack is a fundamental, basic human right that predates our government, our country and modern history itself.

That's why we are allied together in state capitals fighting for laws like the Castle Doctrine, which guarantees your right to defend yourself against criminals anywhere you have a right to be. Castle Doctrine laws eliminate the "duty to retreat," the concept that the victim is obliged to attempt escape from a criminal attack before responding with force. The notion of a duty to retreat flies in the face of the historical tenet, grounded in English common law, that one's home is also one's castle. This principle was carried through to the Fourth Amendment in our own Bill of Rights, which enumerates the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects" against unreasonable search or seizure.

Employers who ban firearms from the vehicles of their employees are literally stripping their workforce of the right of self-defense for their entire commute. No company, no matter how large, has the power to strip away your basic rights.

But your Second Amendment rights are not limited to your home. That's why we're also fighting for Workers Protection laws to prevent employers from discriminating against employees who choose to keep firearms in their locked vehicles while working. Employers who ban firearms from the vehicles of their employees are literally stripping their workforce of the right of self-defense for their entire commute. No company, no matter how large, has the power to strip away your basic rights. But it hasn't kept them from trying.

The opponents of these common-sense reform proposals seem to believe that their rights are better than ours. Big business is claiming that their property rights trump the rights guaranteed to you by the Constitution. Companies claim an absolute right to regulate behavior in the workplace, just as they can set and enforce a dress code.

But the Constitution doesn't guarantee your right to dress as you please. And let's be honest -- a parking lot isn't a workplace. It's more like a locker room, where your personal belongings are stored until your workday is finished.

A "gun free" parking lot doesn't equate to a "safe workplace." Just the opposite is true. By banning employees' guns from parking lots, employers are advertising to criminals that their employees are unable to defend themselves from criminal attack when traversing company property.

The truth is that our opponents are simply scared. The undertone to nearly all of the objections voiced by big business is plain and simple fear, particularly of potential liability. That's why our model Workers Protection laws protect employers from liability lawsuits. But apparently that's not enough to overcome the knee-jerk hysteria of our opponents. We've sent the gun-ban activists at the group formerly known as Handgun Control, Inc. into sheer apoplexy. And true to form, their response has been organized around the formation of derogatory buzzwords intended to spark baseless fears.

"Forced Entry" is what they call our Workers Protection proposal. What exactly is "forced" about an employee reporting for work? And how does "entry" apply to a law whose effect is limited to the parking lot?

Our opponents are using the same desperate tactics to fight our Castle Doctrine legislation. "Shoot First" was their first coinage for the doctrine, but they must have realized that many people consider shooting first a perfectly rational response to an unprovoked, potentially deadly criminal attack. That scenario describes your right to self-defense, in a nutshell.

Now they are calling the Castle Doctrine a "License to Murder." They've cooked up a spooky website, which warns theatrically, "In a nation awash with violence. . . the last thing we need . . . is a license to murder." The site paints the words "license" and "murder" in crimson, cautioning the viewer, "It's not a movie. It's the law!"

The intentional incitement of hysteria by the enemies of freedom is nothing new. It is the same response they used to fight our first Right-to-Carry law, and nothing has changed since then. In every state, the pattern is the same. Predictions of "wild west shootouts" and "blood in the streets" after passage of Right-to-Carry always fade with time, and the realization that law-abiding citizens are just that -- citizens who obey the law. Yet the enemies of freedom carry the same banner of fear-mongering into the next state, in the full knowledge that provoking baseless hysteria is their first, last and only resort.

A life of fear is what our opponents have chosen. They harbor fear of change, fear of the unknown, and the strangest of all -- fear of their fellow citizens and neighbors.

Those who choose to exercise the basic right of self-defense have chosen a life of confidence. We hold confidence in self-reliance, confidence that we can protect ourselves and loved ones, and confidence in our fellow citizens to do the same.

The first part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's quote is the famous one, but the rest is equally applicable: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." As we advance the right of self-defense through the Castle Doctrine and Workers Protection, the only people who need to retreat into fear are violent criminals.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.