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More on Guns in Post Office Parking Lots:

Monday, the magistrate judge in U.S. v. Dorosan, which I blogged about here, issued a further opinion, including this on the Second Amendment question (which is whether the federal government could criminalize the bringing of guns onto post office property, including leaving them in a car parked in the parking lot):

The Court has considered defense counsel's argument that Dorosan's vehicle is an extension of his home; however, that result obtains only when the vehicle is not parked on postal property where access is restricted. In this case, the restricted employee parking and loading area where Dorosan parked his vehicle during his shift bears signs that advise all who enter the gates, as follows:

Vehicles and their contents brought into, while on, or being removed from restricted nonpublic areas are subject to inspection. A prominently displayed sign shall advise in advance that vehicles and their contents are subject to inspection when entering the restricted nonpublic area, while in the confines of the area, or when leaving the area. Persons entering these areas who object and refuse to consent to the inspection of the vehicle, its contents, or both, may be denied entry; after entering the area without objection, consent shall be implied. A full search of a person and any vehicle driven or occupied by the person may accompany an arrest.

An area, such as the Gretna Post Office's employee parking lot, which bears warnings the likes of that aforestated can hardly be analogized to "home sweet home" or an extension of same. By the same token, privately owned vehicles parked on such "postal property" cannot be reasonably be considered an extension of home. The "postal property" at issue more closely approximates one of those "sensitive places" excepted by the Supreme Court in Heller, the Court's latest opinion addressing the Second Amendment "right to bear arms." Certainly a loaded semi-automatic weapon, even if secured in the locked glove compartment of a privately owned vehicle, creates an opportunity for violence on such "postal property" -- i.e., a "sensitive" area where access is restricted for reasons of facilitating the movement of inbound and outbound mail entrusted to the USPS.

[Footnote, moved: In Heller, the Supreme Court cautioned that "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on the longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places ...." District of Columbia v. Heller (holding that the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States secures the fundamental right of all Americans to bear arms).]

Eradicating the potential for deadly workplace violence and ensuring the safety of both Government employees and the public on "postal property" is exactly the security measure that the regulation at issue was designed to effect. The regulation is an adjunct of the Postal Service's policies and more particularly the "zero tolerance" of workplace violence. Indeed, many of those who use postal facilities, including postal workers, do so from necessity, not choice; many members of the public must go to a post office to conduct their business and personal correspondence, carrying cash for stamps or money orders. Postal employees must enter and exit the postal property at issue carrying the U.S. mail.

As previously addressed in this Court's prior opinion, the postal regulation at issue (39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l)) passes Second Amendment constitutional muster and is reasonable as applied to Dorosan. The Government has a significant interest in protecting the integrity of the purposes to which it has dedicated the property (facilitating postal transactions) and ensuring the security of postal employees and the public who must: (1) visit postal property to conduct official and personal business; (2) wait single file in roped off lines inside of postal facilities; (3) idle in vehicles single file in "snorkel lanes" 21 on postal property to use "drive and drop" mail receptacles placed outside of the Post Office building; and (4) carry cash or other legal tender for stamps, money orders, passports and other goods and services provided by the United States Postal Service.

Noting the fact that there were no signs prominently displayed outside of the Gretna Post Office building publishing the regulation's prohibition against carrying firearms (§ 232.1(l)) or animals (§ 232.1(j)) on "postal property," the defendant argued that the statute was vague, overly broad and unconstitutional as applied to the defendant. More particularly, defense counsel suggested that the regulation effectively outlaws conduct including matriculating the drop box lane in a vehicle with either a firearm or an animal safely stowed within its confines. The undersigned Magistrate Judge expresses no opinion whatsoever as to the constitutionality of regulation's ban on carrying firearms or animals in public areas without official purpose -- i.e., operating a vehicle through the "snorkel lane" of the Gretna Post Office while accompanied by a pet Shih Tzu, other non-seeing eye dog or, perhaps, armed with a loaded handgun stowed in the glove compartment. Neither of those issues are before the Court in this case, which involves the prohibited conduct of carrying and storing firearms without official purpose in the gated/restricted access employee parking, loading and unloading area of the subject "postal property."

XON:
I'm wondering if there is a point at which these "By setting one toe over this property line, you forfeit all rights not expressly deemed non-waiveable by the Constitution (and with which we feel like agreeing), and consent to any and all actions we decree without notice, and subject to change at any time" warnings move from being consensual or contractual agreements to being governmental takings that require some sort of compensation before they become legally sufficient?
7.9.2008 4:00pm
theobromophile (www):
Maybe my brain is fried... but I'm confused.

Obviously, Fourth Amendment jurisprudence does not consider the car to be like a home. (For some of us, though, cars are more akin to conastoga wagons than to horses.) That aside, I'm perplexed by the implication that the character of your car can change, depending on where it is.

An area, such as the Gretna Post Office's employee parking lot, which bears warnings the likes of that aforestated can hardly be analogized to "home sweet home" or an extension of same. By the same token, privately owned vehicles parked on such "postal property" cannot be reasonably be considered an extension of home.


That seems to imply that your car can be more or less like home, depending on where it is. Or am I missing something?
7.9.2008 4:16pm
wfjag:
XON, you should read the opinion's statement of the facts and the CFR provision (which was promulgated after notice and comment in the FR):


39 CFR §232.1 Conduct on postal property.

(b) Inspection, recording presence.

(2) Vehicles and their contents brought into, while on, or being removed from restricted nonpublic areas are subject to inspection. A prominently displayed sign shall advise in advance that vehicles and their contents are subject to inspection when entering the restricted nonpublic area, while in the confines of the area, or when leaving the area. Persons entering these areas who object and refuse to consent to the inspection of the vehicle, its contents, or both, may be denied entry; after entering the area without objection, consent shall be implied. A full search of a person and any vehicle driven or occupied by the person may accompany an arrest. (emphasis by bold supplied)


From page 2 of the court's memorandum opinion about the location of defendant's vehicle:


The employee parking lot is adjacent to the post office building and is enclosed by a gate. The gate has a sign on both of its entrances which warns all parties entering that their vehicles are subject to search and cites Title 39 C.F.R. 232.1(b)(2).


The vehicle was parked in a restricted, non-public area -- the employee parking lot. He had no reasonable expectation of privacy there, since his vehicle could be searched, without prior notice to him or permission by him, and there was a posted warning sign telling him that. Further, if you read the opinion, you'll find that when, a couple of days after the bag was found by the side of the road, which prompted the investigation, the defendant was called in by the postal inspectors for initial questioning, the defendant said that he knew why they wanted to talk to him (the finding of the loaded magazines and empty casings in the bag). Moreover, not mentioned in the opinion, is that federal employees receive annual training on Standards of Conduct, security and other subjects -- which includes being told not to bring firearms, explosives and other prohibited items onto federal property.

My crim law prof said that a person had jump 2 hurdles to be convicted: 1. be dumb enough to do the crime &2. be unlucky enough to run into a cop willing to do an adequate investigation. The defendant here knew, or should have known, that he'd lost a bag with loaded magazines and empty casings, knew that bringing firearms and explosives onto federal property is prohibited, and knew that his vehicle was subject to inspection in the employee parking lot. Despite that, he left his pistol in his car, drove his car to work, and drove past the warning sign at the gate to parked in the employee parking lot. All he had to do was leave the pistol at home.

So, please explain that basis for your concern, applying the law to the facts.
7.9.2008 4:18pm
Carolina:

So, please explain that basis for your concern, applying the law to the facts.


I thought this was obvious from Prof. Volokh's post. The "concern" is whether a federal employer may require an employee to give up the exercise of a constitutionally protected right as a condition of parking at the federal workplace.

Of the various post-Heller lower court issues, this is the first one that strikes me as problematic under Heller. The guy didn't carry it into the post office, just left it locked in his car. If he can't do that, the he can't have a pistol without going home. I'm not sure that passes muster under Heller.
7.9.2008 4:43pm
XON:
wfjag, you are of course legally correct. I even pretty much agree with your 'stupid criminal' observation. The question here, and it applies to what Heller sets in motion, is: Even if you want to believe the overblown rhetoric pronounced as to the sanctity and nationally critical sensitivity of postal property, does it really seem acceptable to force a person to abandon their privacy rights through implied consent merely by wanting to park their car to go to a postal worker job?

Some other comments discussed the idea that many of these facilities are in the middle of less-secure areas of cities. "Sorry, you have to work where our presence has made the area dangerous for you to travel through. If you have the means to protect yourself in your mode of conveyance of choice, you're going to jail."


These rules are the same as apply to people engaged in activities for which people would actually want to kill them (Investigators, Auditors, Intelligence activities). It seems sort of odd to tell a person who's job it is to conduct covert actions or investigations of multi-billion dollar criminal enterprises that they face jail for keeping a handgun in their car in the employee parking lot. . .

It's not the details. You've done a great job ensuring that the forms have been followed. It's the broader concept. The forest is wrong. The trees have been pruned to adequacy long ago.
7.9.2008 4:45pm
albert:
Danny Knowles is a good guy and an effective magistrate but I am not impressed at all with these opinions, ESPECIALLY this business about "the vehicle is an extension of the home."

He should have paused to say- what authority, exactly, backs that up? I have heard this phrase repeated by many people, including lawyers, never with any citation to authority. It seems the law runs directly contrary to this: you have lots of privacy protection in your home, but a WHOLE LOT LESS in your car.

Instead his inartful phrasing suggests there is something to this legal "theory"- the car is an "extension of the home", if "only when the vehicle is not parked on postal property where access is restricted."

This "extension of the home" bit has no place in a legal opinion.
7.9.2008 4:51pm
wooga:
XON,
My thought would be that freedom of contract should be able to trump rights, including the 2nd. 1st Amendment free speech rights and free exercise rights can be 'sort of' waived as a condition of employment, and I see no reason to treat the 2nd differently in that context. If I want to hire employees, I should be able to put all sorts of bizarre restrictions on them, even if I were acting as the federal gov't like the post office (kind of a Rust v Sullivan concept). If you want to have a gun in your car, either don't work at the post office or park outside the employee parking lot.

However, that is my desire for the law, not how the court's actually will interpret the law. 'Freedom of contract' is a pretty dead principle in the courts.


* I'm treating the 13th as a prohibition against slavery, not a 'right not to be a slave.' So you can't contract around that one.

**BTW, after writing this post, I can see the glaring slippery slope counter argument. So I really don't know if I agree with my initial impression anymore. But here it is anyway.
7.9.2008 5:02pm
FWB (mail):
Inalienable Rights can not be given up nor can they be legitimately taken away. If such Rights can be forfeited or taken away, they are not Rights but they are privileges. The Bor applies to government, not to private interactions. The Constitution is Rules for Government, not Rules for the People.

Interesting how the 4th amendment (and others) just disappears on federal property. The feds claim authority under certain parts of the Constitution BUT those claims are untenable since without the Constitution, the fed would have NO authority at all.
7.9.2008 5:08pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
A couple of thoughts:

Is a postal employee (this particular employee, if you prefer) allowed to park, during work, anywhere in the immediate vicinity of his workplace other than a posted lot?

If an employee intended to cause harm with a weapon, posting a notice obviously isn't going to function as a deterrent (and obviously has not in the past). So what, then, is the purpose of such a notice? (Wait! I have it! It's a cover-your-butt notice in case someone "goes postal! "Look. We told them they weren't supposed to do that. In writing, even.") Pah.
7.9.2008 5:14pm
Smokey:
IANAL, but this is a bunch of crap. How long before the gov't argues that since they give subsidies or tax deductions to businesses and cities, that a "zero tolerance" policy like this is A-OK? When they wrote "shall not be infringed," did they have their fingers crossed behind their backs? Did they just forget to add, "except for post offices"?

/rant
7.9.2008 5:19pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

My thought would be that freedom of contract should be able to trump rights, including the 2nd.


Ah, so you reverse the rulings that say for example that shrink-wrap contracts aren't always the final word in the matter? Bad Idea.

Freedom of contract is dependent to some extent on the freedom of the person to refuse the contract. Sure, you could refuse to work for any employer that disallows you from carrying personal protection. I hope you like being unemployed for the rest of your life... or are dedicated enough to subsist entirely on self-employment.

"Cross this line and give up your rights" and "Break this seal and give up your rights" are modes of compulsion, and the ability of the person to refuse without becoming a hermit is an issue.
7.9.2008 5:20pm
AKD (mail):
Am I misreading this, or is the judge including in "sensitive areas" any place with an interest in workplace safety?
7.9.2008 5:26pm
Kirk:
XON,

That's kind of a long sentence, but I think I'm wondering the same thing. I'm also wondering why the exterior surface of the automobile isn't the perfect place to draw a bright-line rule?

And as always when these kind of cases come up, I ask proponents of the ban-and-search position: would you be just as in favor if the PO were banning in-car possession of National Review or Mother Jones?
7.9.2008 5:33pm
chris m (mail) (www):
If the lot is fenced and considered restricted... the post office must assume ALL responsibility for damages tothe vehicles and for attacks committed inside the restricted area... if they do, then i have no problem with them restricting firearms on their secured property...

if they do not take the responsibility for damages and injuries, then the lot isnt restricted and the vehicles inside it are still private property...
7.9.2008 5:41pm
stunned:
@ theobromophile

"That seems to imply that your car can be more or less like home, depending on where it is. Or am I missing something?"

presumably thinking that a car parked in, say, the driveway at a person's house might be treated like the home for 2nd amendment purposes.
7.9.2008 5:42pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Even if you want to believe the overblown rhetoric pronounced as to the sanctity and nationally critical sensitivity of postal property, does it really seem acceptable to force a person to abandon their privacy rights through implied consent merely by wanting to park their car to go to a postal worker job?

I worked at a DOE facility (the Savannah River Site). The list of prohibited items that you were not allowed to have in your car included not only weapons (of any type) but also liquor. Frequent and random inspections of vehicles occurred and if you were caught with prohibited items you could expect to lose your job.

No wonder those of us who want reasonable gun controls are so wary about Heller. You see this as an opportunity to eliminate any restrictions on the possession and carrying of firearms at all.
7.9.2008 5:43pm
GD (mail):
"at best uniformed" LOL
7.9.2008 5:46pm
M-K (mail):

This "extension of the home" bit has no place in a legal opinion.


While I don't have a cite, I've heard many times on good authority that under Louisiana law, your car is indeed considered an extension of your home. Anything legal in your home is legal in your car, and that includes firearms.

Interestingly, Louisiana has just passed a guns-in-parking-lots law, which has been signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. I believe it goes into effect in August. This provides that employers cannot forbid the storage of firearms in locked cars in publicly accessible parking lots for either employees or customers, and if they have a restricted lot, they must provide either a nearby (convenient) unrestricted lot or storage lockers. I don't think this affects Federal property, though.

So, just how does this affect CCW-holders buying stamps in unposed Post Offices? Or driving through that snail lane to drop mail?
7.9.2008 6:01pm
Houston Lawyer:
Given their past history, shouldn't postal workers be added to the list of people who can't legally possess firearms, like felons.

Of course, Mr. Obama would add inner city Black folks to this list.
7.9.2008 6:01pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Some of the debate about "freedom of contract" above seems to confuse two issues: (1) what an employer can properly require as a condition of employment; and (2) what the government can make a criminal offense.
7.9.2008 6:12pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Yes, Louisiana did just sign a guns-in-parking-lots law, which many of us consider a significant infringement on the property rights of employers. Were I an employer, I would HAVE to allow guns on my property, whether I wanted to or not. Why should the government be able to limit my property rights that way? What's next? Will the government require me to allow employees to exercise their First Amendment rightsh on my property, such that they can sit their and cuss and rant and dance naked, and I can't do anything about it?

Some of the gun nuts seem to believe that their second amendment rights trump everybody else's property and contractual rights. I support Heller, and I oppose the DC gun ban and all of its ilk. But please, people, keep some sense of rationality. You have NO rights when you're on OTHER PEOPLE'S PROPERTY. They can set the conditions of your entry, the terms on which they choose to employ you, whatever. Don't like it, don't work there. Be careful what you wish for; if you let the government start infringing private property rights to do something you like, you'll give them cover to infringe private property rights you most definitely will not like.
7.9.2008 6:16pm
XON:
JosephSlater,

I couldn't have said it better!
7.9.2008 6:18pm
albert:
M-K wrote: While I don't have a cite, I've heard many times on good authority that under Louisiana law, your car is indeed considered an extension of your home. Anything legal in your home is legal in your car, and that includes firearms.


I think you are illustrating the whole problem: NOBODY has such a cite. They just repeat this adage they heard from somewhere else. You are even taking it further- "anything legal in your home is legal in your car"- oh really?? So how do you explain the open-container law, just to start a very long list of things legal in your home but not in the car?

No offense of course. "I don't have a cite but I've heard it many times" is just worthless. If offered in a blog comment, no biggie, we can discuss it or ignore it. If offered in a court opinion, well, shame on the court.
7.9.2008 6:20pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

Some of the gun nuts seem to believe that their second amendment rights trump everybody else's property and contractual rights.


I might say the same about certain property nuts, who seem to think that 'sensible restrictions' are only for guns, and not for property.
7.9.2008 6:22pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
The parking lot law is NOT about not allowing employers to control their own property... if it was, then it would ALSO stop employers from prohibiting guns in the lot outside of the employee's car as well. That is not in the law, nor any proposed versions of it. So that is a strawman.

What it is about, is to what extent an employer may control the employee's property when it is parked on his own property. And that has limits.

I'll tell you what, I'll respect you property nuts' rights as much as you want to respect mine. You don't appear to care that allowing universal private property bans turns 99% of the country into a no-gun zone, so your rights are entitled to the same apathy. Employers can ban guns inside cars on the property... if there are no employee cars on that property. And if that exception covers 99% of employers, too bad.
7.9.2008 7:00pm
MichaelG (www):
I'm with FWB. However... Here's an opportunity for the professors to educate us. Can you point us to online info of the Court's treatment of inalienable rights? We've heard that the right to keep and bear is an individual right. Does that make it an inalienable right? I ask because I see an inalienable right as a right that cannot be repudiated. Not even via voluntary contract (sorry big L libertarians). Isn't there a legal assertion that a person can not voluntarily enter into a contract that results in slavehood? If that is true under one amendment, why is that not true under all amendments that protect individual rights?

Before people scream about the damage to contract law that would do to, for example, non-disclosure agreements, think of this... A person can choose not to exercise their freedom of speech while retaining the right to exercise at their discretion. Once again our individual reputations would become more valuable than the ability to haul us into court.
MichaelG
7.9.2008 7:20pm
Dr. T (mail) (www):
PatHMV rants about restricting rights of property owners. He seems not to notice that in this case the property owner is the federal government, not a private business.

I worked at a VA Hospital, and its employee parking lots had the same restrictions with almost the same wording on its signs. This VA was in a moderately bad area of Memphis, and evening and night workers were at significant risk once they left the hospital. You could park on the street if you wanted to keep a gun in your car, but the street parking was further away and was not patrolled by VA police. Hospital security was not improved by banning guns in employee vehicles, because it was easy for anyone to smuggle a gun into the hospital. (There were no metal detectors, and random searches by VA police were rare.) The only 'gain' from the ban was bureaucratic: administrators could cover their butts with the written policy if an employee brought in a gun and shot someone.
7.9.2008 7:48pm
Steve2:
This whole "on property" thing is hard for me to get my head around. I just don't think of a container's contents as being in the same location as the container. In my mind, the stuff is in the box, the box is in the place, but the stuff isn't in the place - it's in the box. Like the inside of a container's a whole separate universe from the outside. I just have this reaction to this case that's "But he didn't have a gun in the parking lot to begin with!" since the gun was in the car, and what's in the car isn't where the car is since it's inside a container (the car).
7.9.2008 8:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I am enjoying the clash of libertarian principles here. On the one hand, freedom of contract and property rights. On the other hand, the right to keep and bear arms. And, of course, the fact that it is a government employer and parking lot owner affects the debate as well.

I suspect that when the rubber meets the road, the Second Amendment will not be treated like the First Amendment (i.e., the Pickering test, which by the way, is treated with suspicion by many of the conservatives on the Court who signed on to Heller) and instead, there will be a per se rule that the government can condition employment or access to property on a no guns on site rule.

I will say, however, that as far as what I would do, I might very well say that the government shouldn't be able to do this, absent a showing that the need to disarm the public outweighs the benefit of an armed populace in this particular situation, because the Second Amendment assumes the benefits of an armed populace. You are supposed to be able to keep and bear arms so that you can come to the defense of a free state-- these kinds of restrictions, unlike, say, a gun registration requirement, really do make that difficult or impossible to do.
7.9.2008 8:21pm
whit:
This rule forces you to abandon TWO rights

1) the right to privacy in your car. I don't see this as big a deal as #2, because you are given warning etc. Kind of like when you enter certain military bases and the sign says they can stop you and search your car.

2) your right to keep and bear arms even OFF the property. If you can't bring the gun and leave it in the car, you can't effectively carry to or from work.

I would think a "reasonable restriction" (and Heller says reasonable restrictions are OK) is that if the employee is going to prohibit leaving guns in the car, then THEY provide a secure area for you to put your gun in before you enter the facility and you can retrieve it when you leave.

Iow, if they want to restrict that right ON property they have to accomodate you.
7.9.2008 8:44pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Whit... Despite my deliberately inflamatory language earlier, I actually believe that the legislation passed in Louisiana is constitutional and an appropriate subject for legislation. I think it is overly broad (it applies not just to employers, but to ANYBODY, even homeowners and landlords leasing the garage apartment to some stranger), but that's a quibble with the specific details, not the concept itself.

But then I'm not a libertarian. Accordingly, I also agree that it's within legitimate government authority to provide reasonable regulations on the possession and use of firearms and to impose some restrictions on the freedom of contract and what you can do (like pollute) on your own private property.

And remember, your rights are NOT violated if a private property owner restricts what you do on their property... the Bill of Rights restrains government action, not private actions (and yes, I'm quite aware that the case cited in the post was quasi-governmental post office property; my comment addressed the Louisiana law which does affect private property rights). When we're talking about government employees and their cars, or customers to government entities, then we have to keep in mind a very long line of cases distinguishing between the government in its capacity as the government, and the government in its capacity as an employer. As an employer, the government can even restrict some free speech rights of its employees.
7.9.2008 9:34pm
Brett Bellmore:
If they're going to treat the right to keep and bear arms as a serious right, (It's far from clear to me there's a majority on the Court willing to do that.) when they say "reasonable" regulations, it's got to mean regulations that are actually reasonable, not just regulations somebody can cook up a vaguely plausible but mistaken rationale for.

That is to say, the Post office can argue that banning guns in it's employee's cars on their parking lot is meant to prevent them from "going postal", but simply pointing out that any postal worker who did want to "go postal" would just violate the rule, and so it doesn't actually advance the claimed end, should be fatal to the claim the regulation is "reasonable".

Otherwise we're back to "rational basis", aren't we?
7.9.2008 9:34pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I'm fairly certain that "the car is an extension of the home" language is meant to give the defendant all the benefit of Heller possible -- one can keep a gun in the home, so one can keep a gun in his personal vehicle.

Are postal workers' rights restricted in other ways? Can the counter people wear "Vote for Obama" stickers? Can they pass out Chick tracts with every book of stamps? Can they cover their car with Bush/Cheney '04 stickers, and still park it in the lot? Can they pray the rosary in the breakroom?

I worked for private employers who required me to open my briefcase to show the security guard on the way out that it wasn't full of microprocessors, so I'm not convinced workers get the full protections of the Bill of Rights on the job.
7.9.2008 9:53pm
Doc W (mail):
Pretty much none of the rights is absolute. Free speech? No yelling fire in a crowded theatre, misrepresenting the goods you are selling, inciting violence.... Lines have to be drawn somewhere, and we have the courts to help, but the search for those lines proceeds with the full respect for the fact that we are talking about a fundamental right, one which doesn't disappear just because some plausible benefit might be realized by infringing it. After Heller, the point should be made and reinforced that the right to keep and bear arms is similarly entitled to respect as a fundamental individual right.

I saw a post from FrankCross earlier, expressing what I take to be the fear that the whole country will now descend to the same state of lawlessness as Vermont, with virtually no restrictions on carrying weapons. My worry is in the opposite direction. Even with 9 justices affirming an individual right, the DC gun ban went down by only 5-4. Much hinges on future litigation.

As a libertarian, I support property rights. Access to my property is rightly subject to my approval for my reasons. Legislation is already insufficiently respectful of private property rights. I also support the right to keep and bear arms, but in general that right should constrain the coercive power of government, not the ability of private property owners to control access to their own land and buildings. Yet, by denying employees the opportunity to keep self-defense weapons in their parked cars, I also impose on their ability to possess those weapons on the way to and from work. So there's a tension.

I'm inclined to support private property rights of employers. On the other hand, the Post Office isn't really quite private, is it? To the extent that the PO is the government, 2A should be enforced against it.
7.9.2008 9:55pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Brett, as I've noted, the Supreme Court has very consistently held that the government acting as an employer has a great deal more leeway to restrict the actions of its employees than it does otherwise. It can even limit free speech rights of its employees as a condition of employment. It's not quite as free to impose such restrictions as others are, but the necessities of being an employer allow for such restrictions, and the employee is free to choose to work for the government agency or not.
7.9.2008 9:56pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Incidentally, the Louisiana law would appear to apply even to schools, as it applies to all property owners, tenants, and "public and private employers." The right to keep the gun in the car, however, is not restricted to employees. Ready for the local school hoodlums to have a right to keep a gun at the ready in their car parked on school premises?

Here's the thing with that law. Few employers REQUIRE that you park on their property. Street parking, private parking lots, and other alternatives are generally available. Why shouldn't an employer be able to say: "as a condition of providing you free parking for work, you have to agree not to keep a gun in your car"? Then the employee can pay for parking at some other location on their own dime. Besides which, this doesn't get rid of the free market, folks. Some employers will allow their employees to keep the gun in the car, some won't, and employees can use that factor, along with salary, benefits, and other conditions of employment, in deciding what job to take.
7.9.2008 10:09pm
theobromophile (www):
stunned - I absolutely see what you're saying, but, if that were really the case, wouldn't the judge simply say, "The car ceases to have protection given to the home when it leaves the curtilage"? The way the opinion is written seems to imply that there could be all sorts of constitutional protections given to cars qua cars (not as items within the protection of a home), depending on where they are.
7.9.2008 10:53pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
If they're going to treat the right to keep and bear arms as a serious right, (It's far from clear to me there's a majority on the Court willing to do that.) when they say "reasonable" regulations, it's got to mean regulations that are actually reasonable, not just regulations somebody can cook up a vaguely plausible but mistaken rationale for.

If I can make a pitch for my approach (and Scalia's, for that matter), I really don't think it is a good idea to do a free-form reasonableness analysis. (Nor do I like strict scrutiny very much.) It seems to me that the key insight here is that the Second Amendment permits certain kinds of gun regulations, i.e., those that relate to disciplining, training, organizing, or otherwise regulating the armed citizenry that will defend the free state as contemplated by the provision.

On the other hand, restrictions that don't have anything to do with those aims are unconstitutional.

Now, you'll still need some balancing. As I said, when the government is acting as employer or property owner, I see no alternative to balancing the benefits of an armed populace against the government's reasons for restricting the weapons. But as a general matter, I think that saying regulations are constitutional if they are reasonable, or necessary to serve some interest, both misses the key point that the Second Amendment distinguishes different types of regulations and also is going to allow for evisceration of the right as you posit.
7.9.2008 11:16pm
M-K (mail):
albert wrote:


No offense of course. "I don't have a cite but I've heard it many times" is just worthless. If offered in a blog comment, no biggie, we can discuss it or ignore it. If offered in a court opinion, well, shame on the court.


Hardly worthless when it might encourage someone WITH a cite to step forward. I remembered the (relatively recently passed) law against open alcohol containers moments after posting. Perhaps you can list some of those other exception to the "car is an extension of the home" Louisiana rule.

The reason I posted at all was that some people probably wouldn't know that that phrase applies specifically to Louisiana state law, at least in popular understanding. People who have made this comparison include a state senator or rep recently quoted online in regard to the new parking lot law and former Sheriff Harry Lee.
7.9.2008 11:24pm
Houston Lawyer:
I think the property rights and contract rights lines are red herrings. You can't by contract have your employees waive many rights given under the law. In addition, if you run a business, you can't discriminate among customers based upon a number of reasons. I see no reason not to extend the nondiscrimination obligation to those who are legally carrying a firearm.

It's the irrational fear of the law abiding armed man that is the issue here.
7.9.2008 11:29pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
M-K... the late Sheriff Harry Lee also believed it was constitutional and appropriate to erect permanent barricades on public streets to reduce traffic from the "undesirable" (i.e., black) neighborhoods into the "better" (i.e., white) neighborhoods. I wouldn't rely on him as much of an authority for anything. And I REALLY would never rely on an off-hand comment by a legislator as to what the law is. You'd think they'd have some better knowledge of the law in general, but individual members very often do not... many are less knowledgeable about the law in general than the average member of the public, frankly.

And the car as an extension of the home doctrine is not peculiar to Louisiana, it's an outgrowth of U.S. Supreme Court 4th Amendment decisions. I am a lawyer in Louisiana, and while we're as strong or stronger on privacy and the right of self defense, I know of no statute or judicial doctrine that makes our cars unique from the rest of the country's cars.
7.9.2008 11:31pm
M-K (mail):
PatHMV, the two examples I gave were intended to show the popular understanding of the law, not an appeal to authority. Perhaps you are correct, but I first heard Louisiana car-carry law explained with this phrase at least forty years ago, and I know for a fact that many states severely restrict the right of their citizens to have firearms in their cars, so the 4th Amendment cases would appear to be of still developing recent origin.
7.10.2008 12:08am
Doc W (mail):
Houston Lawyer, we might disagree on where and how to draw the line, but property rights and freedom of contract are not red herrings. Be assured there's no irrational fear of the law-abiding armed man in my house. What concerns me is how casually people appeal to government coercion, to override others' individual rights, even in the name of individual rights. Property rights and freedom of contract are at the foundation of civilized and prosperous society. They deserve our respect.
7.10.2008 1:21am
Ryan Waxx (mail):

> Doc W: Pretty much none of the rights is absolute. Free speech? No yelling fire in a crowded theatre, misrepresenting the goods you are selling, inciting violence... Lines have to be drawn somewhere... As a libertarian, I support property rights... I'm inclined to support private property rights of employers.


When you put those statements together, don't you see the disconnect? Private property rights aren't absolute either, yet you seem to be assuming one just outright trumps the other.

PatHMV: Some employers will allow their employees to keep the gun in the car...


Ooh, that's a good one. Did you manage to keep a straight face while typing that?

The "use someone else's parking lot" might be a workable compromise, however. If the employer can show that one's actually reasonably available... and doesn't turn it into a constructive firing situation (the other parking lot is available from 7am to 7pm, but too bad, you are now on graveyard shift, buddy!)
7.10.2008 1:31am
Kirk:
Doc W,

That tension is exactly why I propose the "skin" of the car as the bright dividing line.

PatHMV,

The "local school hoodlums" are already prohibited from carrying there by Federal regulations (a permit is required, and they're almost always too young to qualify for a permit.)
7.10.2008 1:49am
Jeff Hall (www):
PatHMV wrote:

Here's the thing with that law. Few employers REQUIRE that you park on their property. Street parking, private parking lots, and other alternatives are generally available. Why shouldn't an employer be able to say: "as a condition of providing you free parking for work, you have to agree not to keep a gun in your car"?

Wouldn't there be tax consequences to that approach? Generally free parking is not taxable, but here the employee would be getting a thing of value (parking) for giving up his legal right to carry arms in LA.
7.10.2008 6:17am
Brett Bellmore:

I really don't think it is a good idea to do a free-form reasonableness analysis.


And I really don't think it makes a lick of sense to say that a right is subject to "reasonable regulation", and then refuse to look at whether the regulations are reasonable. It takes away that "reasonable", and leaves the right merely subject to "regulation", by itself.

The Post office can regulate to some extent it's employee's speech. Sure. Can they demand that employees be silent in their cars, so long as those cars are on Post Office property? After all, if employees going postal took a couple of minutes to stop muttering angrily, and think about what they were doing, they might relent, right? So it would advance a legitimate aim of the government...
7.10.2008 7:00am
PersonFromPorlock:

And I really don't think it makes a lick of sense to say that a right is subject to "reasonable regulation", and then refuse to look at whether the regulations are reasonable.

A nice point. May I add, "or look at the regulation with the presumption that it is reasonable?" The courts have a long history of deferring to the rule-makers where their deference is actually owed strictly to the Constitution.
7.10.2008 8:14am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Kirk... are you saying that all firearms owners currently must have a permit from the federal government? I think you are mistaken about that.
7.10.2008 8:21am
Loren (mail):
Ready for the local school hoodlums to have a right to keep a gun at the ready in their car parked on school premises?


Back in the Dark Ages when I attended public high school lots of students had rifles and shotguns in their vehicles in the school parking lot. Many of the guns were clearly visible in the back window gun rack. Many students went duck hunting on the way to/from school.

Additionally, about 20% of the male students had Buck knives strapped on their belts all day long. Myself, I carried a folding pocket knife every day.

We never had either a shooting or a knifing that I am aware of.
7.10.2008 10:04am
Kirk:
PatHMV,

Good grief, no. I presume you've heard of the Gun-Free Schools act? It's a federal law prohibiting possession of a firearm in or near schools. One of the exceptions to the ban is if you have a permit from the state in which the school is located; a LA concealed-carry permit would presumably qualify except that under LA law you have to be 21 or older to be issued such a permit.

Sorry that wasn't clear.
7.10.2008 10:16am
pintler:
While I am sympathetic to the employer's property rights, consider the following hypothetical (numbers pulled from thin air):

Ms. Doe is being stalked by an abusive ex-husband. Based on similar cases, the risk of her being killed by her husband is one percent per year. Her employer says 'if you want to work here, you voluntarily agree to assume the risk of commuting here, and working here all day, unarmed'.

If the company made the same argument, but the risk was from asbestos, or falling off scaffolding, would that be OK?
7.10.2008 10:40am
JosephSlater (mail):
Forgive me for repeating myself, but a number of the comments above continue to confuse (1) what a government employer can and cannot constitutionally demand as a condition of employment, and (2) what the government can make a crime.

Pickering, related balancing tests, and contract theories go to issue (1), not (2). Public employees do have some Constitutional rights the government-as-employer can't infringe, by contract or otherwise in their employment relationship. For example, a public employer cannot insist that as a condition of employment, a public employee must sign a "yellow dog" contract stating that the employee will not join a union while employed by the government. That would violate the employee's First Amendment rights.

These rights are subject to balancing tests. For example, if a postal employee repeatedly says to postal customers, "this post office is really poorly run, we'll probably lose your package," the public employer could fire the public employee without violating that employee's First Am. rights.

But criminal law uses a different analysis. The government couldn't constitutionally make it a crime for a postal employee to criticize the post office; it couldn't arrest the employee and jail him for making those remarks.

So, the employment law issue is different from the criminal law issue. The law discussed in the original post is a criminal law. I'm no expert in criminal law, but I do know that very different rules and tests apply.
7.10.2008 11:16am
Doc W (mail):
Ryan Waxx, re your post at 12:31 a.m.--no, I don't see any disconnect in my recognizing a tension between non-absolute rights and my tentative conclusion that the property rights of business owners should be respected here. My concern has to do with government infringement of individual liberty. If I can get the government to force you to let me do or have certain things on your property, then you can get the government to force me to let you do or have what you want on mine. That just fuels the expansion of government intrusion into all our lives and property, which ultimately is not good for individual rights of any sort. Gun rights supporters should focus on pushing back against laws, ordinances, and bureaucratic regulations, rather than picking legal fights with private property owners. There are merits on both sides of this particular issue (guns in cars in employer parking lots); I'd like to think that my take on it is a wee bit more sophisticated than just blindly assuming one right trumps the other.
7.10.2008 11:22am
albert:
M-K wrote: Hardly worthless when it might encourage someone WITH a cite to step forward. I remembered the (relatively recently passed) law against open alcohol containers moments after posting. Perhaps you can list some of those other exception to the "car is an extension of the home" Louisiana rule.

Perhaps YOU can cite the alleged "rule" that the car is an "extension of the home?"
7.10.2008 11:49am
M-K (mail):
Re albert's post:

I began by saying:


While I don't have a cite, I've heard many times on good authority that under Louisiana law, your car is indeed considered an extension of your home. Anything legal in your home is legal in your car, and that includes firearms.


You said:

So how do you explain the open-container law, just to start a very long list of things legal in your home but not in the car?


So I said:

Perhaps you can list some of those other exception to the "car is an extension of the home" Louisiana rule.


To which you replied:

Perhaps YOU can cite the alleged "rule" that the car is an "extension of the home?"


Um, I believe I began this conversation by saying I didn't have a cite. Perhaps we can agree that "the car is an extension of the home" is probably someone's widely held and perhaps misleading characterization of Louisiana law, without benefit of codification. I'm merely curious what those other exceptions would be, and you strongly implied that you knew them.
7.10.2008 12:42pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Pintler: Consider the same scenario, but reversed. Employee is being stalked by ex-spouse. No restraining order yet forbidding him from going to her workplace. Let's say the employee works in a mall. Coworker spots ex-spouse in the parking lot, sees a gun in the car. Manager asks ex-spouse to leave. Ex-spouse says: "Why?" Manager says: "Because you have a gun in your car." Ex-spouse cites new law and refuses to leave. When cops come, he claims that the new explanation by the manager (we just don't want him on our property) is merely a pretext and plays the tape of the manager saying the gun is why they want him to leave.

The free market and liberty work pretty well over time, people. We don't need all that many government regulations to monkey about with our lives. Keep government out of the way by passing a law saying that nobody can be held liable for the actions of some criminal just because they didn't have a rule outlawing guns on their property, and reasonable people will come to reasonable solutions.
7.10.2008 12:57pm
rfitzpat (mail):
Whatever they are doing in that whacky French civil-law (as opposed to English common law)state of Louisiana about equating cars to rolling houses(and regardless of why a federal magistrate should care about that state's law in analyzing a federal criminal charge), a car seems to be a different -- and less protected -- animal than a home, at least for federal constitutional Fourth Amendment purposes.

Look at the US v Mosley, 454 F.3d 249 (3rd Cir. 2006) decision for that discussion (ultimately, you have an expectation of privacy in both your home and your owned car (although the car is analogized to your clothing), but there is a warrant requirement for a house search and not for a car search -- once a police traffic stop is valid, your right of privacy in your car is greatly diminished). If Heller is extended to encompass a Second Amendment right to carry firearms in your owned vehicle, that extension likely will not be based on some "rule" effectively equating your auto to your home.
7.10.2008 1:42pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Forgive me for repeating myself, but a number of the comments above continue to confuse (1) what a government employer can and cannot constitutionally demand as a condition of employment, and (2) what the government can make a crime.

Joseph, I agree there is a distinction, but I don't think there's the hard and fast rule you suggest. Rather, criminal laws are subject to Pickering analysis as well.

The obvious example of this would be a law that prohibits government employees from disclosing secret or proprietary information received during employment. It is a clear restriction on free speech, it is a criminal statute, and it may very well be upheld under a Pickering analysis.
7.10.2008 1:45pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Dilan:

I agree that there is an overlap in that there are some acts that could constitutionally be both (i) firing offenses and (ii) grounds for criminal prosecuation. But that doesn't mean a court would use Pickering, or something like Pickering, to determine whether a criminal law was constitutional.

Specifically, as you probably know, under Pickering, a court first looks at whether an employee's speech was on a matter of public concern and if so, the court then balances the intrusion on First Am. rights against by prohibiting the speech against the disruption to the government's ability to run its enterprise as an employer if the speech were allowed. Oh, and after Garcetti, the court would look to see if the speech was made as part of the employee's job duties.

Again, I'm no expert in criminal law, but I don't see how analyzing a criminal law would be analogous (except maybe in the very attenuated sense that the criminal law analysis might have some sort of balancing test too). And even if the two analysises might come to the same conclusion (it's constitution for a public employer to discipline Joe Employee for X act, and it's also constitutional for the government to prosecute Joe criminally for that act, or alternatively it's not constitutional to do either), I still think it's worth separating out the two types of analysis because they frequently DON'T have the same conclusion.
7.10.2008 2:00pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
First from JF:
No wonder those of us who want reasonable gun controls are so wary about Heller. You see this as an opportunity to eliminate any restrictions on the possession and carrying of firearms at all.
I would suggest that his definition of reasonable gun controls is an oxymoron to many of the rest of us.

I also appreciate that Joseph Slater brought us back to the relevance of the 2nd Amdt. here, that post offices are quasi-federal, and thus presumably within the ambit of that amendment.

But that also brings up why businesses, etc. ban guns at the workplace. In short, the attorneys make them do it. If you have an employee go "postal" on you, and he was able to bring in a gun to work, then the business may be facing liability. Of course, in many cases, banning guns in the parking lot, etc. may result in more gun violence, not less, esp. when there the parking lot is dangerous at night. But the employer liability issues are more likely to work out in their favor if they ban guns from the premises (and parking lots).
7.10.2008 4:07pm
Kirk:
PatHMV,
Keep government out of the way by passing a law saying that nobody can be held liable for the actions of some criminal just because they didn't have a rule outlawing guns on their property
Way to tilt the playing field! That's not an evenhanded "keeping the government out of the way"; not unless there's a companion law that says there is liability if a private entity chooses to disarm law-abiding citizens (whether employees, customers, or whatever), that by disarming folks they are presumed to be offering adequate security instead.
7.10.2008 4:38pm
pintler:

Consider the same scenario, but reversed. Employee is being stalked by ex-spouse. No restraining order yet forbidding him from going to her workplace. Let's say the employee works in a mall. Coworker spots ex-spouse in the parking lot, sees a gun in the car. Manager asks ex-spouse to leave. Ex-spouse says: "Why?" Manager says: "Because you have a gun in your car." Ex-spouse cites new law and refuses to leave. When cops come...


With respect, she should have gotten that restraining order. Then, when the cops come ... they arrest him for violating the RO and for being a prohibited person in possession.

We can have a society that treats everyone as a potential criminal, or only those who have given cause. In this scenario, the wife is from the former class, and the husband the latter.
7.10.2008 4:42pm
Kirk:
pintler,

Your point is valid, except I'd prefer not to play along with PatHMV's hypothetical. Too often, as in this case, the first warning the victim has that the perpetrator is (again) violating the restraining order is when it's too late. No, if it really matters, a restraining order just mostly just a useless piece of paper.

(Incidentally, and OT, isn't the headline in the link just egregiously offensive? "Two killed in University of Washington shooting", as if the killer and victim were on equal moral footing. Shame on King TV!)
7.10.2008 4:58pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
But in every instance that the restraining order would be a worthless piece of paper, so too would be the law 'banning' the gun from the parking lot.

So PatHMV loses there, too.
7.10.2008 5:48pm
wfjag:

Even if you want to believe the overblown rhetoric pronounced as to the sanctity and nationally critical sensitivity of postal property, does it really seem acceptable to force a person to abandon their privacy rights through implied consent merely by wanting to park their car to go to a postal worker job?

Some other comments discussed the idea that many of these facilities are in the middle of less-secure areas of cities. "Sorry, you have to work where our presence has made the area dangerous for you to travel through. If you have the means to protect yourself in your mode of conveyance of choice, you're going to jail."


Dear XON:

Sorry to take so long getting back to you -- work, clients, etc. -- I suspect that you, like me, can't list blogging as among official duties.

You raise an interesting argument -- safety while traveling to/from work. The defendant raised the same issue:


Defendant urges the Court to find that, as a postal employee who travels to and from work in a high crime city, he has a legitimate need to carry a gun in his vehicle; thus, as applied to a postal employee keeping a gun in his car on the postal parking lot during his shift, §232.1(1) is unconstitutional. (Ftn. omitted) Slip at 4.


The problem is that the argument didn't pass the laugh test for anyone familiar with Gretna, La. There are 2 Post Offices in Gretna, both are on main thoroughfares and in fairly safe residential areas. When I lived in New Orleans, a friend of mine worked at the Gretna Post Offices. She never felt unsafe at them, or going to or from work.

One of the commentators mentioned that the late Sheriff Harry Lee (famous for the quote "How can I be a racist, I'm Chinese?") was from Jefferson Parish (in which Gretna is located) tried to keep certain people out. He wasn't keeping Blacks out -- he was keeping people from New Orleans out. The racial makeup of Gretna is about 56.32% White, 35.53% African-American, Hispanic 6.34%, and 3.12% Asian. Lee enjoyed overwhelming support among the minorities, as many (possibly most) had moved there from New Orleans to escape the crime.

I'm not saying that there aren't dangerous neighborhoods in the Greater New Orleans area. But, there's no significant danger when driving on the major thoroughfares. And, if you're the victim of a carjacking, a pistol in the glove box will do you zero good. ("Excuse me, Sir. Would you take your gun out of my ear while I get my piece out of my glove box so I can blow your sorry ass away?" Even NOLA perps aren't that dumb.)

I suspect that the Judge did what Judges are known to do when an implausible factual argument is presented -- change it into a question of law and avoid the problems raised by factual disputes when dealing with a motion.

Of course, if the Post Office was, in fact, in a high crime area so that argument was more than what appears to be a rhetorical flight of fancy, then I can see the argument having more basis and maybe the Court would have looked more closely at whether the security measures there were adequate, and weighed that as a factor.

While I disagree with you on this one, I've enjoyed your comments. Look forward to reading more.
7.10.2008 8:19pm
Kirk:
wfjag,

Sorry, but while there are areas with higher and lower incidence of crime, there is absolutely no such thing as a zero-crime area.

Consider, for just one example, the Westlake self-defense shooting in Seattle. The linked story is an early article; in fact the shooting was considered justifiable self-defense and no charges were filed against the shooter. Now Westlake Plaza is one of Seattle's highest-end shopping centers, and not remotely any kind of high-crime district. The assault took place late on a Saturday morning, on a public sidewalk with plenty of witnesses around. It's hard to imagine a situation further from the stereotype of bad area, late at night, in the corner of a parking garage or dark alley, etc, etc but yet it happened!

How could it possibly have been ethical for the State of Washington or the City of Seattle to have disarmed the victim by legislative fiat, and then provided nothing in return?
7.10.2008 9:06pm
M-K (mail):
wfjag:

I agree with most of your post, especially your characterization of the flamboyant Harry Lee.


I'm not saying that there aren't dangerous neighborhoods in the Greater New Orleans area. But, there's no significant danger when driving on the major thoroughfares. And, if you're the victim of a carjacking, a pistol in the glove box will do you zero good.


You're ignoring the fact that we have know way of knowing what neighborhood the defendant was coming from, or how early or late he had to start or leave work. And as safe as Gretna generally is, there are areas I won't pass through while unarmed. Further, there is no requirement to keep the gun in the glove compartment while driving. He could have it stuffed next to him between the seats, or just about anywhere else convenient (with the possible exception of concealed on him, unless he had a CCW permit; Louisiana law seems to outlaw concealed carry even in one's own home--at least I haven't been able to find an exception for the home).
7.10.2008 10:09pm
XON:
wfjag,

That's what I like about VC: generally civil and pointed interactions.

The flaw, if you will, with what you say is that you get into dicey territory when you start saying, "It's not ok to bring guns in Gretna, but it's ok to bring them to Brentwood."

I think the Magistrate did a lawyerly job of trying to apply the law as it is now. The issue I have is one of good-faith belief that the law should be changed so that the government and other actors can't, basically, force us into waiving privacy and other significant rights for the mere peppercorns of the permission to not be deemed trespassers on their public facilities.
7.11.2008 12:07am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
The flaw, if you will, with what you say is that you get into dicey territory when you start saying, "It's not ok to bring guns in Gretna, but it's ok to bring them to Brentwood."


Or to put it another way, the flaw is having some judge tell you weather or not you are 'justified' in fearing an attack in Gretna, Brentwood, or any other place. Its just not the court's role to issue rulings on what fears are justified by the crime statistics, and they simply aren't equipped or competent to do so.

So say there's a spectacular carjacking that ended in a toddler's death (it was in a car seat when the car got crashed) right on your street. The crime stats themselves don't move a blip, but you obviously feel more unsafe because of that. Human? Yes. Statistically justified? No.

Does your robed master let you carry a gun in your car to protect your child while dropping them off at daycare on the way to work? If we assume The Robed One has mercy on you, what about the lady with 3 kids on the next street down? Does her rights diminish because he lives on the wrong street? What about the fellow who lives alone on your street? Does he not get his rights because he doesn't have children?

Can you see why this might be problematic?
7.11.2008 9:10am
wfjag:
Dear XON:

Welcome. I enjoy VC for the same reason -- and also not infrequently finding well-stated phrases that find their way into my for potential future use file.

I found the below via Overlawyered.com

http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=894570


3 yr Old Kid Shoots Glock 21 for First Time
________________________________________
Cop shot by 3 year old sues Glock.

The Associated Press
07/09/2008 10:39:23 PM PDT


LOS ANGELES—An off-duty Los Angeles police officer who was hurt after his young son accidentally shot him in 2006 filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the manufacturer of the gun involved in the accident. Enrique Chavez of Anaheim was shot in the back by his 3-year-old son after the boy grabbed his father's Glock 21—a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol—from the back seat of his pickup truck.
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court, alleges that Glock Inc.'s gun was dangerous because its safety device was "non-existent or ineffective" at preventing an accidental shot.
Chavez, 35, is also suing the manufacturer of the gun's holster and the retail stores that sold him the gun and the holster. He bought the gun at the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club and purchased a holster made by Uncle Mike's and Bushnell Outdoor Products from Turner's Outdoorsman.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants knew the safety device was defective and that 5.5 pounds of pressure on the trigger frequently results in accidental discharges.
The lawsuit alleges product liability, breach of warranty and loss of consortium, and seeks general, special and punitive damages, and attorneys fees.
Calls made after business hours to the defendants were not immediately returned Wednesday night.


Guess that L.A. Cops are almost as good at their profession as the lawyers in L.A. Law.
7.11.2008 10:34am
XON:
I used to be a military policeman, and was generally astounded at the level of firearms acumen of the average LEO. But every so often, when I go shooting, I run up against people who demonstrate how bad they could have been if they hadn't had the training that they did. . . There are a couple of hilarious youtube vids of police officers shooting themselves or having an accidental discharge of the weapon while giving firearms safety instruction. I also noticed an elected sheriff resigning recently after the same sort of fun.

Glocks are serious weapons for serious business. . .
7.11.2008 2:38pm
wfjag:

Glocks are serious weapons for serious business. . .


Absolutely. I've been looking at a Model 21C. Beautiful weapon. But, while after the round is chambered and cocked, it may have a 5.5 lb pull, as I recall that unless it's cocked, it's double action for the first round. So, the L.A. Cop apparently left a loaded, cocked Model 21 where a 3 year old could get to it (and didn't think that a trigger lock was needed with a 3 year old around, or maybe he thought the fancy, quick draw holster was more important and couldn't afford that and a trigger lock).

In any event -- it's all the fault of Glock, the holster manufacturer and the retailers. (Too bad the English Rule on attorneys' fees doesn't apply).
7.11.2008 6:38pm
Kirk:
wfjag,

Huh? Glock makes a pistol with a conventional, cockable hammer?
7.12.2008 12:00am
wfjag:
Kirk:

If you mean like the M1911A1, then the answer is "No", as far as I am aware. But, once a round is chambered, Glocks are single action -- IMHO, not necessarily a good feature, since (like the Beretta 9 mm now used by the US military) the only thing keeping you from shooting yourself in the foot is ensuring (or, hoping) that the safety remains engaged until you take it from the holster. I've always believed that the M1911A1's design -- with half-cock position for the hammer, thumb safety and pressure safety -- was a superior design. Until the hammer is fully cocked, thumb safety is disengaged and pressure safety is released by griping it, it cannot be fired, and when that is done, it's single action. Unfortunately, most M1911A1s are too old and loose, and the modern manufactured ones don't incorporate advances in materials and technology.

I'm not impressed with double action pistols -- or those having a double action first shot feature -- like the 9 mm Beretta. The result is usually a wild first shot.

However, I'm hardly wed to the Glock design. Although it's a good design, rugged and relatively light, it's not perfect. If you have suggestions, please make them.
7.13.2008 3:07pm
Smokey:
There's a little thingy sold in the aftermarket for Glock triggers [their triggers have a safety on the trigger so they can't fire if dropped].

The aftermarket device is a little plastic cup sort of thing molded to the shape of the trigger and trigger safety. You put it over the trigger/safey, so the trigger can't be pulled because the safety can't be depressed. When you want to fire you can just flick it off with your finger, then pull the trigger.

Forget where I saw it, maybe here, but it seemed like a good invention. Cheap, and it [probably] would have prevented the accident noted above.

That said, anyone, cop or otherwise, who leaves a loaded and ready to fire gun around an unsupervised 3-year old is a friggin' idiot. And deserves what he gets.
7.13.2008 8:43pm