The Wyoming House is considering a bill that would prevent employers from prohibiting workers from keeping guns in their vehicles at the workplace.
The House voted 36-23 in favor of House Bill 207, sponsored by Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Krone says he’s heard from workers who must commute long distances to work and are concerned about their safety because of employer gun bans.
“I really think this is a fair balance,” Krone said after the House vote. “There are folks who believe they should be able to have a firearm for personal protection. I believe that’s a right in Wyoming that needs to be honored.
“Then again, you have the employers’ property rights, and I respect and honor that,” Krone said. “I think this is a real balance of the two of those: to allow citizens to follow the law, and allow them to have firearms for self-defense.”
Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, spoke in favor of the bill. He said the private property rights of the vehicle owners need to be protected.
“Now, all of a sudden, people I don’t even know, are going to be able to start restricting where I can park my vehicle with a gun in it,” Gingery said.
“It’s taking the position that somehow guns are bad, that somehow guns run around by themselves shooting people,” Gingery said of efforts to defeat the bill. “Guns are a good thing, guns protect you.”
But opponents of the bill said they’re concerned it would violate employers’ private property rights.
“As a private landowner, I can tell somebody with a bumper sticker that I find offensive to get off my property with it, and I think I can do this with a weapon too,” said Rep. Jon Botten, R-Sheridan.
Rep. Mike Madden, R-Buffalo, expressed concern about how the Krone’s bill would affect employers’ rights. He said the bill would make it impossible to enforce rules in the workplace.
Gov. Matt Mead said at a news conference that Krone’s bill presents a challenge because it pits two different constitutional rights against each other: the employer’s right to control their property and the employee’s right to firearms.
“That is one that I continue to look at, frankly, and is a bit of a challenge because it looks at those two different rights,” Mead said of the bill.
Speaking after the House vote, Krone said the bill wouldn’t affect employers’ right to restrict firearms within the workplace itself. He said guns would have to be locked in the employee’s vehicle and kept out of sight.
Krone said if the bill is enacted he would hope that it would prevent employers from firing employees who carry guns in their cars in violation of company policy. An employee who was fired in violation of the law could bring a court action against the employer for wrongful termination, he said.
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