'Guns at work' bill becomes law
By DARA KAM
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
TALLAHASSEE — It's now a legal showdown after Gov. Charlie Crist signed the "take your guns to work" bill into law Tuesday and the business community aimed to take the state to court over it.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Retail Federation and other business groups hired prominent constitutional law attorney Barry Richard to sue the state over the new law that prohibits employers and businesses from barring workers and visitors from keeping guns locked in their vehicles.
Only employees and others who have concealed-weapons licenses are allowed to keep their guns in vehicles. But the license records are not available for public inspection, so businesses would have no way of verifying if employees actually have the licenses.
A similar law was overturned in Oklahoma because the court ruled that it violated federal worker protection laws.
A federal court found that the Oklahoma law - which did not include the concealed-weapons-license provision - conflicted with federal Occupational Safety and Health Act rules requiring employers to provide workplaces free of hazards.
That case is under appeal.
The Florida law is being challenged under that provision and others, said Richard, who also indicated he plans to file the lawsuit in federal court next week.
The law violates business owners' right to be compensated by the government when it takes someone's property or makes it available to others, Richard said.
"It's our position that if the state wants to do that, it has an obligation to pay for it. It can pay for the parking lot or it can build a new parking lot," Richard said.
That's nonsense, said NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, a former president of the national organization.
"The Florida chamber (of commerce) and the Florida Retail Federation are basically saying they're going to spend their money in an effort to deprive their customers and their employees of their constitutional rights. Nothing in this bill rises to the level of taking of business property," she said.
The law is also "arbitrary, capricious or irrational," Richard said, which would also make it unconstitutional.