Texas Legislators Force Employers to Allow Packing While Parking
The first week of May, the Texas Legislature approved legislation (considered but not passed in 2009) requiring most employers to permit employees to keep guns and ammunition in their cars, even if the car is parked on employer-controlled property. House sponsor, Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington, described it as a "parking lot bill" that provides a balance between private property and gun rights. Dallas Morning News, May 4, 2011 at 4A.
Senate Bill 321 would amend the Texas Labor Code to make it illegal for a public or private employer to prohibit an employee who lawfully possesses a firearm or ammunition from transporting or storing that firearm or ammunition "in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees." SB 321, Sec.52.061. Exceptions apply "on any property where the possession of a firearm or ammunition is prohibited by state or federal law," including school districts, or to vehicles "owned or leased by a public or private employer and used by an employee in the course and scope of the employee's employment" unless required to use a firearm in the discharge of his duties. SB 321, Sec.52.062(a).
Moreover, employers may continue to ban firearms "on the premises of the employer's business," including those owned by licensed concealed handgun carriers. SB 321, Sec.52.062(b);Tex. Govt. Code, Sec.411.203.
The new law grants civil immunity to employers for damages "resulting from or arising out of an occurrence involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored" in accordance with the law. It also expressly declares that "the presence of a firearm or ammunition" transported or stored in accordance with the law "does not by itself constitute a failure by the employer to provide a safe workplace." SB 321, Sec.52.063.
The new law is intended to take effect on September 1, 2011, but awaits Governor Perry's signature.