The primary reason the culture wars keep raging on is that neither side really wants them to end. Neither side is content with merely winning the freedom to do its own thing. Real winning is all about the joy of getting the power to force your opponents to do things they find objecitonable. On the left, we’ve seen this with the birth control mandate. It isn’t enough to have won the legal right to birth control, which has been the case for a couple generations now. (And should have been from the start.) Now it’s about forcing people who have moral objections to birth control to buy it for other people.
Here in Tennessee, we’re seeing a similar bit of one-upsmanship from the right on the issue of guns. Gun rights proponents have finally earned a Supreme Court decision declaring that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to bear arms. And since about 2000, further efforts at gun control have basically been a non-starter in national politics. (Again, as it ought to be.)
But that isn’t enough enough for the gun-rights crowd, either. Tennessee Republicans are now pushing . . .
. . . legislation to let employees tote any legally possessed firearm into their company parking lots and then leave the guns locked in their cars during their workday. Businesses say the bill tramples their private property rights and threatens the safety of all their employees.
A who’s who of the Tennessee business world has paraded to the Capitol to try to persuade lawmakers to buck the National Rifle Association, which is demanding passage of what’s become known as the guns-in-parking-lots bill. It’s put legislators, particularly Republicans, in a no-win political position — faced with upsetting one or the other of their strongest and most-feared constituencies.
Among those testifying before the legislative committees against the bill have been representatives from FedEx, Volkswagen and Bridgestone — three of the largest employers in the state. They raised the specter of disgruntled or deranged employees or customers grabbing their guns out of their cars and going on shooting sprees.
All the state’s business associations have lined up in opposition too, including Nashville’s Chamber of Commerce and the hotel and restaurant industries. Also against the bill are the Farm Bureau and many of the state’s hospitals and universities, including Belmont and Vanderbilt.
“This is not an anti-gun position on the part of employers. It’s a pro-employer rights and a pro-property rights position,” said Bill Ozier, chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The employer has the right to set rules in the interest of the safety of their other employees.”
The libertarian solution to these debates is pretty simple. Do you want to work for a company that lets you bring a gun to work? Find an employer that lets you bring a gun to work, then get yourself a job with that employer. Do you want to work for a company that includes free birth control as part of its health plan? Find employer that provides free birth control, then get yourself a job with that employer.
It really doesn’t matter if you aren’t convinced by the arguments from, say, Catholic hospitals that birth control leads to moral turpitude and is part of Satan’s plan to make the earth his dominion. (I’m not.) It also doesn’t matter if you’re convinced by the arguments from Tennessee businesses that allowing guns in the parking lot will turn workplaces into blood-spattered battlefields. (I’m not.)
In the end, you have the right to voluntarily negotiate the terms of your employment. You don’t have the right to take a job, then have the government to force your employer to provide you with the benefits or the workplace environment of your choosing.
Actually, the way things are going, it’s looking more and more like you kinda’ do have that right. But dammit, you shouldn’t.