In the United States there have been a handful of high-profile incidents in which an employer has terminated an employee following the employee’s use of a gun in self-defense while at the workplace. In recent years, NRA has worked with state lawmakers to pass worker protection – or parking lot – legislation that ensures employees are able to carry a firearm to and from the workplace and store a firearm in their vehicle while at work even if the vehicle is parked on company property.
Given the problems American employees have faced in exercising their right to self-defense, and the lengths NRA has gone in order to help protect workers’ Right-to-Carry, one can imagine the severe challenges that face gun-owning employees in a hysterical anti-gun society like Australia.
In October 2008, David Waters became the first Australian to earn the Distinguished Rifleman Badge for excellence in High Power Rifle shooting. The achievement was the culmination of a lifetime of dedication to the shooting sports. At the time, Waters told the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s online magazine that “it took over 170,000 kilometers (105,570 miles) in travel; $45,000, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and 50 actual shooting days to accomplish [the] feat.” A well-rounded competitor, Waters has also competed in shotgun and pistol disciplines.
Waters’ shooting sports prowess is without question. However, despite this lifelong display of responsible gun ownership, Waters’ pursuit of his passion would end up costing him his job.
In 2015, Waters worked for tiremaker Goodyear in Parramatta, New South Wales. In July of that year, Waters was contacted by another sports shooter who sought his advice concerning an accessory for a target rifle. Unable to meet the person that weekend due to an international trip, Waters agreed to meet him in the Goodyear parking lot during Waters’ lunch break.
Waters had anticipated that the individual would bring only the rifle accessory to the meeting. However, in a simple case of miscommunication, he brought both the accessory and the corresponding target rifle.
The parking lot was visible to the public, and somehow police were alerted to the presence of the rifle. Being Australia, sixteen police officers responded to the scene. In the course of a brief police investigation, officers accompanied Waters into his workplace in order to retrieve his identification. Waters was not charged with any wrongdoing.
Immediately following the incident, Goodyear suspended Waters without pay. Following a perfunctory hearing, Waters was fired for jeopardizing the safety and security of his fellow employees and Goodyear assets. The fact that Waters did not bring the firearm onto the company’s property, had no knowledge that his fellow shooter would bring the rifle, and that the rifle was never handled in a manner that would pose a danger to any person or property was of little concern to Goodyear.
After his termination, Waters filed a complaint with Australia’s Fair Work Commission. Following a hearing, Waters was awarded $8,600 due to Goodyear’s hasty conduct in the matter. However, the commission failed to reinstate Waters to his former position.
In an effort to help Waters and prevent such an injustice from happening to other members of the shooting community, Liberal Democrat Senator for New South Wales David Leyonhjelm has taken up Water’s cause. In a series of floor speeches in the Australian Parliament, Leyonhjelm criticized Goodyear and the Fair Work Commission and defended Waters and Australia’s shooters. In one of the speeches, Leyonhjelm remarked, “We Australians are rightly proud of our Olympic, Commonwealth Games, and world championship shooters and the medals they regularly bring home. Unfortunately, it seems the rest of the time they are treated as presumptive criminals. It has to stop.”
NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert readers and other astute gun rights supporters might recognize Leyonhjelm for his tireless work advocating on behalf of Australia’s gun owners. In 2016, Leyonhjelm used his unique position in Australia’s parliament to cut a deal to provide Australian shooters with better access to the Adler Arms A-110 lever-action shotgun (Australia has a ban on semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns). In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Western democracies, Leyonhjelm has advocated that Australians should be permitted access to non-lethal and lethal means of self-defense.
While Goodyear’s treatment of Waters was even more egregious than many of the cases that have led to gun owner firings here in the U.S., this incident is instructive. Given the fanaticism of many gun control supporters, as well as certain corporations’ aspirations to be perceived as politically correct, it is not difficult to imagine a similar scenario resulting in the termination of an American worker. That is why gun rights supporters must work together to bring attention to such injustices when they arise and support legislation that protects workers’ Second Amendment rights.