Monday, February 04, 2008

"Keep It In Your Car" Laws And The Like...

Something I mentioned in passing earlier and about which my opinion is apparently in the minority even amongst libbytarians[1] an' howlin' anarchists of the individualist stripe--

Laws that bar businesses from restricting your right to carry or even possess on their property effective means of self-defense, either in whole or in part.

I'm in favor of 'em, at least in most situations. "What," you gasp, "you favor empowering the State to push around businesses?"

Yep. 'Cos most businesses are already creatures of the State. They're corporations. Artificial persons. Entities that would neither have legal rights nor even exist were it not for the State and as such, they should be bound by the Bill of Rights, same as the State. They already cannot tell you what political party you may belong to or what books you may read. Oh, true, there are books and magazines you might get in trouble for reading openly at work, that it would be plain rude to be readin' at work; but your own books, in your own bag or locker, are none of their business. They cannot tell you what church you may attend or what philosophical beliefs you may hold. How, then, is it any of their concern that you've got a Kel-tec inside your waistband under your coat or a .45 in your purse? (Uness it's not secure; that's a safety issue).

If businesses have a right to tell their patrons and employees what they may carry concealed, then you'd better go whole hog, kiddo: they have a right to dictate the color and style of your underwear, the minute you set foot on their property.[2] If you're okay bein' told what you may or may not have with you to defend your life and property by the folks at Mall-Wart or Smalltime Hot Dog Emporium, then they have a right to scope out all the contents of the car you parked in their lot and kick you out or worse if they don't like what they find. Are you okay with that? Are firearms in the hands of honest, decent men and women any different, special or magical in some way a toothbrush or a penknife is not?

Either you believe guns are self-aware talismans of horror and death just waiting to leap up and murder innocent bystanders (and if so, you'd best hie thee hence to the Bradys), or you understand the reality: that lump of metal, plastic and cordite is just exactly as much or as little a threat as the person who's in control of it.

That doesn't change when you go shopping at the home-improvement store. That doesn't change when you go to work. Neither your employer nor the merchants you buy from is in loco parentis, though a good many of them seem to be loco in a way that makes them think they're your parents.

...Now, I have to go to work in the real world and where I work, they are gun-shy. At present, the only solution to that is to refrain from keepin' and bearin' at work and apply my efforts to changing the law.
1. Pretty consistently spelled that way and not capitalized so as to underscore that it is the entire messy mixed bag of folks who wanna mind their own business and not be futzed with by an ever-more-restrictive government to which I refer, not one political party or some narrow slice of the spectrum.

2. Unless you happen to work in some industry in which you'll be showin' off said underthings to view. Yes, boys, even strip clubs have employee dress codes.


Tam said...

What about private residences? Can you have a "No Guns Allowed" home?

(You see where I'm going with this, right?)

Because I.N.C., Inc. is definitely an artificial creation of the state, but what about Joe Hippy's Candle Shop, sole proprietorship where he sleeps in a loft over the showroom? Is it his place? Or the State's?

As an aside, I have a different opinion on this topic pretty much every day, 'cause it's a thorny one. Self Defense is a sacred right, but so is the right to the control of your own property, and I'm of two minds on which trumps which.

Tam said...

...and my word verification was "kprehhk", which everyone knows is a Klingon delicacy.

Rustmeister said...

I think the big question is where do property rights begin and end.

I think my property rights begin with me, then my possessions, including my car.

As long as I'm not transporting something dangerous to the general public, no one has the right to tell me what to put in my car.

If an employer requires me to leave my gun at home, then shouldn't they be responisble for my safety, not only at work, but to and from as well?

Anonymous said...

Gaaak. I might have to write another long post about this, because it keeps coming up, and for some reason, people don't seem to understand that you don't trample on 1 right to guarantee another. And, actually, they're one and the same, in the end. The right to self defense is a property right, in that you own your own life. How do you "fix" a property right by quashing property rights?

Irrespective of whether corporations are "creatures of the state", they are still owned by people. Those people, whether the company is held privately or publicly, own the property (or lease it) where the parking lot is. As such, they get to say what happens on their property.

Another property right is the right to contract. That is, each of us has the right to enter into an employement contract, or not, with companies having such policies. A law against this is yet another infringement against property rights.

And it doesn't matter whether your vehicle is an extension of your home. It's still mobile, and it's still being brought onto another's property.

Why is it that people who supposedly value rights and small government advocate for yet more government interference and infringement upon rights in this instance? Sorry folks, but you're just being inconsistent here.

Anonymous said...

And Rustmeister, no, the company isn't liable for your safety. If you go to work unarmed in compliance with company policy, then you have chosen to abide by those terms. It was, and is, your decision, both to enter into such an employment agreement, and to abide by it. If somebody put a gun to your head and forced you to sign on the dotted line, and holds a gun to your head every morning to ensure you leave your guns at home when you go to work, then you would have some ground to stand on.

Anonymous said...

We're not, Jed, and I can back it up, but not right now.

Rob K said...

Jed, please point to one single person, or even a real group of persons who actually have 100% final authority and responsibility (e.g. ownership) regarding Megaconglomco Inc.'s parking lot. Whose personal private property is that parking lot? Legally, Megaconglomco is a person, and it's that way to shield the stake holders from personal responsibility. This kind of law, (if only applied to corporations, which is all I support) cannot violate anyone's private property rights because none of the places covered are any human being's private property. It is not the property of any real person.

Keep in mind that even in the case of a corporation where all stock is owned by one person who is the sole employee, there are MANY regulations on how he can use the property owned by the corporation. He can't use it as though it were his own personal property (mostly because of tax laws).

Rustmeister said...

Yeah, Jed, but life's not that simple.

When someone says "If you don't like your employers policies, get another job", I have to wonder where all these plentiful jobs are.

As it stands now, I do have a job that prevents me from carrying to work, but I don't work for a private company.

If I could find another job that would take the years I worked here and use them to vest me into their retirement program, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Aside from having a trunkful of road flares at natural gas storage facility, I don't see how or why my employer would worry about what's in my car.

Anonymous said...

Rob, there are many possibilites. The President, the CEO, the Chairman of the Board, the Board itself, and ultimately, the shareholders. Perhaps all of the above. I draw no distinction between corporate and private property, because utlimately, it's still owned by the people who own the corporation. That's what stockholders do -- own the corporation, and by extension, its property.

Rustmeister, I'm sorry, but while I'm sympathetic to your argument, it doesn't change the principles involved.

I currently have a large post in the hopper, and once I have it finished, I'll post the link here.

Alan said...

Unfortunately for the property rights crowd, we already trample all over property rights at the federal, state, local and HOA levels.

I think individual self defense is far more important than whether I have to have a permit to pull an electrical wire or add a sink. It's also more important than ADA requirements and EPA regulations. It's more important than asking the Home Owners Association if I can paint my house blue. If the argument was for giving up all those limits on control of private property too then I'd say you have a point and I wouldn't ask for a law to carry at work.

Since NONE of those limits on property rights are going away, I say there is room for another, far more critical, limit on the "property right" of denying me a means of self defense.

Anonymous said...

Alan, your argument comes down to "the haystack is already so large, what's one more straw", then?

And, didn't you voluntarily enter into a contract with the HOA when you purchased (or rented) your current domicile?

Anonymous said...

Alright, got my big post up.

On Undermining Your Own Foundation

Alan said...


Pretty much. (haystack)

In the entire history of man, we've never had strong property rights. There's always been someone telling someone else what they can or can't do with their property. So arguing that somehow the myth of property rights preclude forcing businesses to allow concealed carry when they don't stop anything else seems a little straw mannish to me.

Sevesteen said...

Thank you. I've had a mental conflict between property rights vs. carry rights. I knew what I thought should be, but I couldn't figure out why. This matches pretty closely--Individual rights are more important then corporate rights.

And for Tam's questions--Yes, you can have a no guns home, and an individual or partnership may run a no guns hippie candle shop. Once they incorporate or LLC, then their rights decrease in proportion to their decreased liability, and in most cases our peaceful rights now prevail.

Anonymous said...

I do have further thoughts on this and will post them as soon as I have time.

Anonymous said...


I don't believe that property rights are a myth. They're poorly enforced, and even downright pissed on by the government. Doesn't mean they don't exist.

But, to your point, I would absolutely love to see them used to stop other abuses. Failure to do such doesn't mean I'm willing to let them go even further.

Rob K said...

Jed, none of those people (President, CEO, board members, shareholders) own any of the property of the corporation. The corporation owns the property. Shareholders only own a right to dividends from the corporation and a vote in directing the company iff they own enough stock. And they are ALL shielded from personal responsibility in the actions of the company - many times even criminal actions. None of them lose their house, boat, Porsche, or Rolex if the company goes bankrupt.

Corporate property is no more private property than is a state park or a county courthouse.

This is why I'm against the legal fiction that is the corporation.
(And no, I haven't read your linked post yet.)

CAPTCHA: nosab

Alan said...

IANAL, but I don't have to be for this.

It's long established in law that rights have limitations. Some rights are more important than others. The hoary example is that the right to free speech doesn't allow me to yell "fire" in a theater.

My first amendment free speech right is trumped by your "right to life".

Property rights fall into the same category. The US Constitution allows property rights to be violated for takings (Eminent Domain), due process and other lawful reasons (ADA, EPA, Etc.). You can't wish that away, it's the law of the land.

I say that like the theater example, my right to self defense, my "right to life" trumps someone else's "property rights". If enough people agree with me, laws will be passed to support that view. If the courts say they're constitutional, then they will stand. Welcome to the Republic.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I understand the distinction in law regarding title in ownership. I am, perhaps incorrectly, thinking in Lockean terms. This legal framework called a corporation has nothing, by itself, to use in exchange for ownership. The capital comes from people who have used their labor to acquire wealth which they invest, thus funding the corporation. Otherwise, it could not acquire assets. That is why I used the qualifier "ultimately" -- perhaps I should have said "indirectly" or something along those lines.

So here's a question for you. If a privately held corporation is liquidated for more money than is needed to satisfy debt, who gets the leftover money?

Also, yes, somebody has responsibility for the parking lot.

And, IIRC, there have been cases, rare though they might be, where the corporate liability shield has been pierced.

Rob K said...

Sure someone has "responsibility" for it, but whose personal property is it? I have responsibility for certain parts of my company's software, our office manager has responsibility for certain things about the office, but whose personal property is it?

Sure there are legal rules about who gets what when a corporation is liquidated, but that doesn't mean anyone other than the corporation owns the property. When I die, various people have rights to my property, but that doesn't mean any of it belongs to them.

Whose personal property is your county courthouse? Whose personal property is Disney World? They're both governments of a sort. Corporations only exist through charters granted by, and therefore as an extension of, a government entity.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I commend your argument, but there's still a gap there. It has to do with the distinction you're drawing between "personal" property, and "corporate" property. But the thing is, if ownership of real property proceeds from the initial ownership of each person's life and labors (and I see no way for it to be otherwise) then there isn't any way for a corporation to own anything without the involvement of people.

If I understand your argument, what you're saying is that in the transferrance of assets/wealth from a person to the corporation, the right of property in ownership gets disconnected. (And it's possible that this late in the day, I'm doing a poor job of conveying the concept that's in my head.) The thing is, that without the foundation in property rights, I don't know how the corporation can own anything.

Sevesteen said...

Incorporation sets up barriers to liability. A private owner risks everything, while a corporation risks only what is part of the corporation, and not the entire assets of the corporation's owners--Even if there is a single owner. A corporation can also play games with subsidiaries so they can use the assets and contribute to the wealth of the parent, with less risk to the parent assets.

This risk reduction should come at a cost, and the appropriate cost is a reduction of property rights at least in proportion.

Rob K said...

Jed, I understand what you're saying, and I used to whole heartedly agree, but then I learned the reality of corporations. In terms of pure private property, I'm with you -- but even there your rights toward a visitor are limited. You don't have the right to prevent a visitor from leaving your property. You don't have the right to murder or rape someone you allowed onto your property. You don't have the right to kill a trespasser who's not threatening you in anyway. Do you disagree?

If the corporation did not depend on the state for its existence and receive special privilege from the state, I would agree with you.

A corporation's parking lot is no more owned by any person than your state's statehouse or a town's park is owned by any person. When you buy stock in a corporation, you do not own any of the real property of that corporation. All you've bought is an obligation on the part of the corporation to you.

Buy a share of Disney stock, then try to walk onto Disney World's parking lot openly carrying a gun while waving your share of Disney stock. Your fellow shareholders have (supposedly) voted that you don't have the right to do so, yet if you wholly owned Disney World, as your personal property, you would undoubtedly have that right. So if your ownership of Disney stock gives you private property rights in Disney property, who's rights prevail? Yours or your fellow stockholders?

You could make an argument based on free-will association, but I don't buy it. The corporation is a creation of the state, receiving special privilege from the state, and is in my mind a de facto agent of the state.

Anonymous said...

Jed says its a property owners right to control what happens on his property and if people don't like they shouldn't go on the property.

I have just instituted here at my homeplace an no currency carry policy. Any paper money on anyone who enters this property will be confiscated and nobody, according to Jed, can do a damn thing about it. I'm starting to see benefit to his viewpoint.

Wait till the mail lady find out about the required sex poicy on my own private property where I can make her do what I want because she has no rights here. Boy, is she gonna be pissed. But, she has no choice, ask Jed. She could avoid it tomorrow though, by just quitting her job. But today, ah she accepted the policy by being here.

Tam said...


Your reductio ad absurdum seems a bit non sequiturish.

I can see where you could bar entry to people carrying money.

I can see where you could ask people found to be carrying money to leave.

I can't see where you can take their stuff.

Unknown said...

Fine- a business, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, robber baron, whatever-does not wish for me to have the means to defend my life...or the responsibility.

Heaven forbid that the state intrude upon their property rights. However, they have intruded upon my right to defend my life.

Regaining balance is required.

Their actions have resulted in my being able to take responsibility for defending my right to life. To regain balance, the state requires the business (or the private citizen barring arms from his home)to accept responsibility for defending my life...both criminal and civil.

PinkoHippyCrap, INC. didn't make a resonable attempt to defend my life while unarmed at their behest on their premises? Sounds like negligent accessory to homicide to me. A new felony, I assume. 20 year sentences sounds about right for the owner, manager, etc., etc.

The current setup can handle stripping the offensive business or private citizen of all assets after sending the miscreants to prison.

Oh, one other pitfall, today, right now, I will acquiesce if you tell me to leave my weapons behind upon entering your property, I will also tell you that I hold you and yours completely responsible for my defense under these circumstances.

After being informed of this, if you-in turn- agree for me to enter your property unarmed...woe to you if I am harmed for I will seek amends from you and with vigor.

Roberta X said...

Oh, well put, Bryon!

Anonymous said...

Byron, my point is that the right to life is a property right.

However, I hope you can see the slippery slope nature of the position that the government can or should step in to "balance" things out.

As far as contributory negligence goes, there is precedent, in the case of US West and Robert Harlan. It's too bad that we didn't have the intertoobz back then (1984? IIRC) because I'd love to be able to link to documents on that case. Suffice it to say that US West was found liable for failing to provide a safe/secure workplace. Unfortunately, I think the way it would come out would be that the company didn't do enough to keep guns out of the workplace, rather than a ruling in favor of allowing employees to arm themselves for self defense.

But enough straying into the practical world. I'm trying to be philosophical here. :)

I'll have another post up in a day or two, so I'll just say thanks to everyone for the great discussion. Especially Rob for the comments on corporate ownership, and Roberta for the, uh, mental imagery. Speaking of which, I have some old stuff to dig up which directly addresses the privacy aspects. I just hope I still have it around someplace -- pretty sure I do.

Anonymous said...

Here in Texas, they've now said that if your employer tells you no guns in their terms of employment, it's criminal to carry on the job. The rationale is that you are on their property (and the law says the company has ownership rights, like it or not), and if they tell you no guns on their property, then you are violating their property rights if you disobey.

Texas also has the "30.06" clause, which when posted at entrances, makes it illegal to carry into a place of business. Basically, a CHL holder can carry into any publicly accessible place (with a few exception like schools) legally, unless the owner specifically informs you otherwise.

Used to be that the law was interpreted that employee policy codes only covered the employment contract, but now Texas law says that such codes are sufficient communications to prohibit the carrying of a concealed handgun. It's not only a breach of your employment contract, it's a criminal act. Joy.

Divemedic said...

Ahhh- Corporations. A legal device which allows a person or persons the financial advantages of owning property without any of the legal risks or responsibility.

IMO, when you open your business to the PUBLIC, you owe the public a certain responsibility. The responsibility to maintain a safe environment among them. You can not expect to be able to deny me a right to self defense with a rule and then hide behind "third party intervention" to dodge responsibility when I get robbed and shot.

Comparing your property rights in your home is not the same as your rights in a business that is open to the public. I can post a sign in the yard of my home that says "No Irish allowed." and that is OK. Try doing that at your candle store.

The statement that if I don't like it, I can get another job can be easily rephrased to "Don't like it, don't open your doors to the public."

Roberta X said...

Mike M., "sometimes the law is an ass," though it's a pity legislatures are so willing to prove it.

I address your point -- and TX's idiotic "criminal to carry if posted" law -- in the posting that follows this. There may be a valid (or at least practicable) point (o it in re open carry, but trying to regulate concealed carry is as futile and invasive as trying to regulate a person's indididual choice of underwear or their very thoughts.

All such laws and rules, like all firearms laws, additionaly only control the behavior of those who are inclined to go along with them. No 30.06 sign ever stopped a bad guy, though plenty of real .30-'06es have.

In Indiana, we've no shortage of nitwit laws but at least they realize the "No Guns Allowed" signs really only mean "No Visible Guns Allowed."

Divemedic neatly sums up the Catch-22 involved in banning gungs and then ducking responsibility. This can be recogonized as yet another example of the "if we pretend bad things never happen, they'll never happen to us" school of thought. This works real well until it doesn't.

Roberta X said...

er, "gungs" = "guns" Oooo, I type so well.

Anonymous said...

Tam makes a good point. But if the government can confiscate personal property, why can't the homeowner? How can something be wrong for one, but right for many?”)

Roberta X said...

They've gotta know it's there before they can confiscate it, no?

...An argument which forks: one branch points back to the quaint ol' line about " Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,[...]and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized...."

And the other branch is you very point: if a thing is not right for an individual citizen to do, it cannot be right for an aggrate of citizens to do, even acting as a State, even when done or authorized by their duly elected representatives.

Wrong is wrong. No matter how many noses were counted.

And concealed is concealed. It's wise to own at least one firearm that doesn't have a paper trail; "concealment" is more than just wearing a long vest and baggy britches.

Anonymous said...

The problem is unequal property right laws and enforcement. If Joe Hippy's Candle Shop can ban people who are carrying a gun, then Sam Skinhead's Smoothie Shoppe can ban people with dark skin. On the flip side, if the government is going to step in and say a store open to the public must allow Muslims inside, even if the store owner had a family member killed in the 9/11 attacks, then I don't see why other stores can't be required to allow entry by people who are legally carrying a gun, or wearing underwear.

Roberta X said...

...And it still comes down to, they have to know first. "Passing" as white, "passing" as sheep, whatever: you're not obliged to share this informaation and count on it, most folks won't.

As for "okay to deny service for (whatever)," you know what? I won't do business with aplace that does that, but I think it's their right to shoot themselves in the foot by so doing. An awful lot of civil rights progress was made not by laws and politicians but by people pointing out jerks and standing up to them. And an awful lot of that very vital effort gets ignored, while preening popinjays on the public payroll try to take all the credit. Foo. 'Tain't so.

Anonymous said...

"What about private residences? Can you have a 'No Guns Allowed' home?"

On a related note, what happens if an HOA, which are corporations, decides that a homeowner cannot have a gun in his home?

Since homeowners agreed to abide by the HOA rules -- at least, that's what the contract says -- what choice do homeowners if their "private government" decides that it wants to turn it's Common Interest Community into a privatized gun-free zone?

For a modest proposal on how one-fifth of the population can be deprived of their right to self defense via contract law, without any due process, click here.

If the gun control lobby were smart (and that's a big if), they would start with HOAs sympathetic to their goals, in order to set a precedent for future court cases.

Anonymous said...

> jed @ February 4, 2008 5:46 PM
> And, didn't you voluntarily enter into a contract
> with the HOA when you purchased (or rented)
> your current domicile?

OK, this is two years old, but:

You're assuming that choice exists for home buyers, which is not necessarily true. The growth of HOAs/CIDs is supply driven, not demand driven.

HOAs have the power of small governments, but are shielded as corporations. As such, they have the power to "tax" and seize your home, but don't have to respect your rights.

Professor Evan McKenzie, a former HOA lawyer, cites HOAs as an example of "'repressive libertarianism,' where certain people who call themselves libertarians invariably side with property owners who want to limit other people's liberties through the use of contract law. Property rights (usually held by somebody with a whole lot of economic clout) trump every other liberty."

Then there is the whole issue of "informed consent." ie, when somebody is handed a stack of papers written in legalese at the time of closing, should it be considered binding? If contract law trumps all other values, can you sell yourself into slavery?

The other problem with applying rational choice theory to HOAs (PDF, pp. 226 - 229) is that people -- whether acting as consumers, employees, and/or voters -- are so constrained by the daily demands of work, family, and housing that they do not have the freedom to "vote with their feet." Or at least, not as much freedom as they have to change brands of cereal and laundry detergent.

As much as I enjoy the works of Ayn Rand, she was a New York & Hollywood socialite who never had to care for a sick child in flyover country.