By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Alabama Political Reporter
When our founding fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, they made the “right to keep and bear arms: a priority. In fact, the right to own a firearm comes second only to the first amendment rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of the press.
The founding fathers were wise to provide constitutional protections for gun ownership.
The actual wording of the second amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
So there is a good reason for protecting the right to own firearms: security.
That is why Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford and I have sponsored legislation to protect a gun owner’s right to keep a concealed firearm in their vehicle while on private property or property owned by a business.
Many people are licensed to carry firearms in their vehicles for personal protection. But some businesses have made rules prohibiting employees and other individuals from keeping firearms in their vehicles while on company property. That is why we need this legislation.
On one hand, the argument can be made that a business should be allowed to make its own decisions about whether to allow firearms on company property. But the problem is that the company is also prohibiting the gun owner from keeping their firearm in their vehicle at times when that person is not on company property.
For example, if a company prohibits its employees from keeping firearms in their vehicles, then employees would have no choice but to store their firearms at home unless the company keeps a safe storage facility where employees can drop off and pick up their firearms before and after work.
So what if this employee stops by the bank or gas station on the way home from work and someone tries to rob them? That employee would not be able to defend themselves because the firearm they are legally allowed to carry in their car had to be left at home.
One of the basic lessons taught in high school government classes is that one person’s rights end where another person’s rights begin. Businesses can set their own policies, but they do not have the right to create policies that take away their employees constitutional rights – especially when the employee is no longer on company time or property.
Sen. Bedford and I have been working across party lines to create bi-partisan support for our legislation. We have read that Billy Canary and the Business Council of Alabama oppose this bill, but we hope they will see the importance of protecting gun ownership and support this legislation. Legal and responsible gun owners should not have to choose between their safety and their jobs.
Representative Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden. He has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2000. In 2010, Representative Ford was elected House Minority Leader by the House Democratic Caucus. He was re-elected Minority Leader in 2012.