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Standing Guard: Victory in Florida

Friday, June 27, 2008

Florida firearm owners, led by the unrelenting former NRA President Marion Hammer, have once again preserved armed self-defense, with the enactment of legislation to prohibit anti-gun employers and business owners from banning legal firearms kept out of sight in locked vehicles in parking lots.

The law protects all customers and visitors, and protects employees with Right-to-Carry permits, on most parking lots. Furthermore, the law protects businesses from liability, and protects employees from retribution.

The new law is a logical addition to the landmark companion Florida statutes that have served as successful models for other states; with Hammer`s creation of a strong Right-to-Carry law in 1987 (currently almost half a million people possess Florida Right-to-Carry permits), then her success in seeing Floridians protected with a "stand your ground" Castle Doctrine law in 2005.

Among the remarkable coalition pulled together by Hammer in 2008 were building trades unions and the Florida AFL-CIO, whose leadership understands that many of their members are also NRA members or strong believers in the Second Amendment.

Organized opposition came from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation, along with corporate giants, like the Disney Corporation and Wal-Mart, all in collusion with the Brady Campaign.

The central issue in this battle is whether corporations can ban legally-owned and legally-transported firearms that are stored out of sight in locked vehicles in public access or employee parking lots, and whether they can fire employees with carry permits who keep their firearms in locked vehicles.

Florida`s law clearly says that in such places and under those circumstances, guns shall not be banned.

As Marion Hammer said, "Businesses readily consent to a host of laws that limit property use: zoning laws, building codes, fire codes, parking lot codes, handicapped access, electrical codes, sign placement laws and traffic easement laws, to name a very few among many." In short, corporations are creations of government, coming into existence by charters created by legislatures. Yet, Marion Hammer faced a media that was virtually unanimous in shilling for anti-Second Amendment corporate interests versus citizens` rights. Still, she always got our message and the truth across. In the end, the people won. As she explained, "The preamble to the Constitution plainly says "We The People," not "We The Corporations.`"

In the Florida campaign against gun owners, big corporations received heavy propaganda support from the Brady Campaign. In fact, the idea of banning firearms in parked and locked automobiles on corporate property came originally from the Brady Campaign`s "Legal Action Project"--as a stealth attack to counter NRA`s enactment of Right-to-Carry laws throughout the nation. It was part of their phony "bloodbath"; predictions that proved to be a big lie in state after state where Right-to-Carry became law. In their 1997 manifesto--;"Guns and Business Don`t Mix"--;the Brady Campaign presented a blueprint for businesses to "adopt a gun free policy despite the new laws."

The battle morphed into a fight over law-abiding gun owners’ right to store firearms in their locked vehicles on business parking lots. This was corporate gun prohibition pushed by the gun-ban lobby. Where the Brady Campaign claimed all sorts of corporate liability for allowing "law-abiding citizens` to keep guns in their cars, this was their answer about violent criminals:

"Companies should also not be concerned that by adopting a gun-free policy they are legally guaranteeing the safety of all customers and employees should a criminal bring a gun onto company property and shoot someone."

So there it is. Just like all other forms of "gun control," this Brady-inspired big business gun control only applies to the law abiding. We are the victims.

The phony figures trotted out on workplace violence by the gun ban lobby and unquestioned by the media, includes . . . heck, let me quote: "Many of these workplace homicides stem from robberies . . . ."

Let me repeat: the Brady Campaign propaganda says on one hand that companies have no responsibility for safety from criminals, but they cite armed robbery as the reason that law-abiding employees and customers, folks legally entitled to bear arms, should be disarmed in so-called "gun-free zones."

No sooner was the ink dry on Governor Charlie Crist`s signature making the Preservation & Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act law, than the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation, to be joined by the Brady Campaign`s "Legal Action Project," filed suit in federal court demanding that the new law be ruled unconstitutional. And they have boasted that they are ready to pay a legal tab of at least $250,000 to wage war in the courts.

We`re no match for Disney`s deep pockets, but what truly counts is on our side: the rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.

This fight, regardless of venue, is about gun-ban corporate giants versus the Constitution. The victory in Florida was, and will be, one for the people, one for the Second Amendment.

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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.