‘Gun-at-work laws’ violate the property rights of business owners

Iowa is the latest state to consider prohibiting private property owners from banning guns on land they own. Sometimes called “parking-lot laws” or “gun-at-work laws,” many such statutes tell property owners they can’t prevent people from storing their guns in a locked car while they work their shift (or attend church or seek help at a nonprofit counseling center). In some cases, the laws allow them to bring the guns inside. Iowa would become the 25th state with such a law. When an earlier version of this bill was passed by an Iowa Senate subcommittee, “the Second Amendment prevailed,” according to a local news article . But that reflects a common misunderstanding: These laws do not defend constitutional rights. I support strong Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms, but the amendment constrains only the government. It does not require private individuals to own guns or allow them on their land — just as the First Amendment does not require private owners to allow speech they disapprove of on their property. To mandate that Americans accept guns on their property represents an unacceptable infringement of their property rights, and also violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. As the Duke University legal scholar Jacob D. Charles has pointed out , gun-at-work laws help to demonstrate that parts of the gun-rights movement has moved on to a new phase. The first wave sought to strike down government regulations that were seen as unduly restrictive of gun rights. (These campaigns […]

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