Florida Gun Bill Suffers Setback
Feb. 23, 2006--Amid heated debate, a proposed bill that would grant employees the right to keep guns in their cars on office property was shelved by Florida lawmakers on Wednesday.
Despite a tentative compromise reached two week ago, Bill 129, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), was dropped at its first public hearing after a raucous meeting of the House Judiciary Committee.
Among other setbacks, its supporters refused to accept amendments put forward by the Florida Chamber of Commerce aimed at garnering support from local business leaders.
The bill, which Baxley said he would continue to pursue, sharply divided members of the House, including within the state's Republican party majority.
Introduced in September 2005, the bill sought to make it a third-degree felony for employers to prevent workers from storing firearms in cars parked on company property. With backing from the National Rifle Association, Baxley -- a local funeral home owner -- argued employees had a right under the Second Amendment to protect themselves going to and from work.
Business groups countered by invoking private-property rights, and cited labor laws compelling business owners to maintain a safe working environment.