A rare and spectacular showdown may be coming in Florida’s Republican Party: Big Business vs. Big Guns…But the NRA is insistent. The group…has donated nearly $1 million in Florida over the past decade, mostly to Republicans
The dust-up is over the “guns-at-work” bill, which the National Rifle Association began pushing last month in Tallahassee to force all Florida businesses to allow firearms in the vehicles of any employee or visitor. Companies could keep policies banning guns from their buildings themselves but could no longer apply those policies to their parking lots.
The bill is sponsored in the Florida House by none other than Rep. Dennis Baxley, the fruitcake who tried to pass an “academic freedom” law that would have punished liberal college professors who allowed views other than Baxley’s to be aired in their classrooms. That effort failed. We can only hope this one meets the same fate.
Many businesses are either wary of or leaning against the proposal, including heavy-hitters such as Disney and local giants such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, CSX and Baptist Health System.
But the NRA is insistent. The group, which has donated nearly $1 million in Florida over the past decade, mostly to Republicans, is led in Tallahassee by former national President Marion Hammer. Hammer said the rights of gun owners should be intact in their vehicles, and the proposed law already gives businesses immunity from liability lawsuits in cases of workplace shootings.
Is a lawsuit the worst possible outcome if an employee uses a gun at work? A lot of people don’t think so.
Andy Sike, director of safety and security for Baptist Health System, said his company’s no-guns-at-work policy is needed to protect its 6,600 employees and numerous visitors…
“Like any business, we terminate employees; there’s all sorts of personal disputes that can spill over and you never know where it’s going to lead,” Sike said. “The immunity clause is nice to cover the legalities, but it’s not going to do anything for someone who’s been shot.”
Marion Hammer doesn’t care. More background: she was inducted into the 2004 Florida Women’s Hall of Fame, with credit taken for her nomination by both the Florida Republican Party and Gov. Jeb Bush.
The bill isn’t getting the same wholehearted backing.
“Your home is a slam dunk, but bridging that into the private property of an organization doesn’t hold,” said Mike Hightower, chairman of the Duval County Republican Party and lobbyist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. “I don’t think people are going to want to cross that line.”
In a telling sign of wariness, neither Gov. Jeb Bush, Senate President Tom Lee nor House Speaker Allan Bense are taking positions on the bill yet. Bush said he hasn’t seen it and wouldn’t say whether he supports the idea. Lee is still studying it, and Bense is simply sending it to House committees with no input…
Disney World, which employs 57,000 people at its Orlando resort, is also treading carefully.
“Our policy is that guests and employees — including our own security — are not allowed to bring guns onto our parking lots,” said spokeswoman Lissette Campos. “For now, we’re not taking a position. It’s very early.”
Hammer calls Disney’s policy “horrendous discrimination.”
One can only hope the U.S. Postal Service will earn an exemption.