GRNC President - Paul Valone

By F. Paul Valone
March 14, 2012


In Valiant, Oklahoma, on October 1, 2002, Weyerhaeuser Co. conducted a surprise search by sending drug-sniffing dogs into its employee parking lot. Although they found no drugs, twelve workers were fired after guns were discovered in their vehicles1 – a fate many readers here could easily suffer. Since then, legislation allowing employees to keep guns in locked vehicles at workplaces has passed in Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Alaska, Kentucky, Mississippi, Kansas and Minnesota2, and is under debate in Tennessee.3


Arguments against the laws which decry infringement of “private property rights” are little more than red herrings fronted by opponents of concealed handgun permit laws. In debating Representative Chuck McGrady’s amendment to remove the measure from House Bill 650, for example, Majority Leader ‘Skip’ Stam argued property rights are so absolute that he “owns” everything which crosses his property including, presumably, the contents of your pockets.4 (Better leave that wallet at home.)


But if Fifth Amendment property rights were absolute, owners of privately-owned businesses could not be required to protect customers and employees by installing fire suppression systems and emergency exits, and privately-owned restaurants could not be barred from denying service to minorities. As gun opponents are so fond of saying about the Second Amendment, no right is absolute.


In truth, the employee protection language McGrady struck from HB 650 has been upheld by two courts: In Florida Retail Ass'n v. Attorney Gen. of Fla. (2008), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida found the law constitutional, saying that with respect to employees with concealed handgun permits, it fell within the legislature’s authority.5


In 2009, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling which had held that the law was preempted by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Act. The higher court determined that the OSHA argument “…interferes with Oklahoma's police powers and essentially promulgates a court-made safety standard…”6


Despite McGrady’s assertion to the contrary,7 no proposal was ever made to bring guns into workplaces, only to allow them to be kept in locked vehicles, enabling employees to protect themselves by keeping firearms with them as they go about their daily business.


But for the efforts of McGrady and Stam, domestic violence victims could have been safer. After a string of domestic homicides by abusive spouses who ignored restraining orders, our organization passed legislation enabling domestic violence victims to apply for emergency concealed handgun permits. Currently, if the victim passes through the parking lot of her employer, she is forced to leave her defensive firearm at home, inviting attack by her abuser.


Employee protection laws are both constitutional and rational. With respect to Rep. McGrady, it’s not some big, bad gun group causing his misfortune. Beyond gutting the employee protection language, he twice voted against gun owners and has refused to answer Grass Roots North Carolina’s Second Amendment candidate survey, earning only our lowest “0-star” evaluation. Whatever wrath he might incur from the gun voters he has thus far failed to represent is entirely of his own making.



  1. "Allowing guns locked in cars at work makes sense," Bob Aldridge, The Journal-Gazette, March 9, 2010,
  2. “Firearms at Work,” “Human Resource Executive Online,”
  3. “Bill would allow guns in workplace parking lots,” WMCTV, Erik Schelzig writing for Associated Press, February 22, 2012,
  4. Chamber audio for North Carolina House of Representatives, June 7, 2011. Recording available upon request.
  5. “Florida Federal Court Rules Employees May Leave Guns in Cars While at Work,” Jackson Lewis Workplace Resource Center, August 5, 2008,
  6. Guns-in-vehicle law ruled valid, Robert Boczkiewicz, Tulsa World, February 19,2009,
  7. Telephone interview with Times-News reporter Gary Glancy in which Glancy told me he had asked candidate Roger Snyder about guns in the workplace based on what he was told by McGrady. It was I who corrected Glancy by informing him that guns in the workplace had never been part of the proposal.