From the Office of State Senator Glenn Hegar, District 18

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2009
Contact: Lisa Craven
(512) 463-0118

Calls Decision a Victory for Workers

(AUSTIN, TEXAS) — Calling the decision a “victory for workers,” Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar applauded the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals' unanimous ruling upholding employees' right to store legally owned firearms in locked, private motor vehicles while parked in employer parking lots. Hegar said the decision should hasten passage of his legislation to allow hardworking Texans to store legal firearms in their vehicles while at their place of employment during the work day.

“This is a victory for the tens of thousands of Texas workers who have been denied the right to protect themselves as they commute between their homes and workplaces,” said Senator Hegar.

In March 2004, the Oklahoma legislature passed an amendment holding employers criminally liable for prohibiting employees from storing firearms in locked vehicles on company property. A number of corporations subsequently filed suit in opposition to the new laws, alleging they were: unconstitutionally vague, an unconstitutional taking of private property, and preempted by various federal statutes. The lower court ruled in favor of the suing parties and issued a permanent injunction, reversing the Oklahoma legislature's bid to protect workers.

In October 2008, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry and Attorney General Drew Edmondson appealed the lower court's decision to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday, Circuit Judges Paul J. Kelly, Bobby R. Baldock, and Michael W. McConnell ruled in favor of the Governor and Attorney General's request, reversing the lower court’s permanent injunction.

"I have repeatedly voiced my view that when an employer bars firearms on company property, even those hidden in locked vehicles, they rob their employees of their 2nd Amendment Rights and, even more importantly, their right to safety. Now, three federal judges agree with me,” Senator Hegar added.

Last week, Hegar filed Senate Bill 730 to prevent employers from adopting policies that deny 2nd Amendment protections to their employees who wish to store legally owned firearms in their locked vehicles in the parking lot of their workplace. Hegar said that he filed the legislation in response to a number of instances across the state where employees have been denied the right to protect themselves while traveling to and from work because their employers have adopted overly restrictive policies. "Texans should regain what is their constitutionally protected right to protect themselves as they travel to and from work and it appears that the judges of the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agree,” said Hegar.

Hegar said that millions of Texans spend hours each week in their cars and trucks as they commute to and from work. These commutes may be comfortable and safe for many, but others are not so lucky, as their daily drives take them through dangerous neighborhoods. Unfortunately, some Texans are forced to make the choice between adhering to their employer’s policy prohibiting storage of their legally owned firearm in their locked vehicle on company property, non-adherence to which is oftentimes grounds for termination, and protecting themselves by having their legal firearm available to them as they make their daily commute.

Hegar said that Senate Bill 730 is common-sense legislation that balances the rights of both employer and employee. Under the measure, employees will regain their express right to store a legally owned firearm(s) and ammunition at their place of work, and with it the ability to protect themselves as they move between their homes and jobs. Employers will be protected from any lawsuit resulting from the use of a firearm stored on their property and they can still forbid an employee from carrying a firearm in company owned vehicles. Hegar said his bill also provides employers with the option of requiring employees who exercise their regained right to use a separate parking area supplied by the employer.

"Responsible and law-abiding gun owners should not be forced to choose between personal protection and protecting their jobs,” said Hegar. “It appears that with yesterday’s decision of the three judge panel and the quick passage of Senate Bill 730, no hard-working Texan will again face that difficult and unfair choice," he concluded.

Senator Hegar served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives and now represents Senate District 18 in the Texas Senate. Senator Hegar is a sixth generation Texan, and earns a living farming rice and corn on land that has been in his family since the mid 1800's. He currently resides in Katy, Texas with his wife Dara, and their three children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah.