(Fortune Small Business) -- Wesley Higdon didn't have to go far to get his handgun. After an argument with his supervisor at Atlantis Plastics in Henderson, Ky., the 25-year-old simply walked out to the parking lot and retrieved the weapon from the glove compartment of his car. Then, in the early hours on Wednesday, he shot and killed five co-workers before turning the weapon on himself.
There was nothing Atlantis Plastics could have done to make that trip longer: Kentucky is one of six states where employers must allow employees and customers to keep firearms locked in cars parked on company property. Many of these laws apply only to concealed-weapon permit holders, but in Kentucky, if the weapon is stored in the glove compartment - as Higdon's was - no concealed-weapons permit is required. Henderson police say that Higdon had no criminal record that would have prevented him from legally purchasing the gun.
"Employee safety is a priority at Atlantis. We do not allow weapons of any kind in our facilities," Atlantis Plastics spokeswoman Michelle Ebbitt said after the shooting.
Because only about 3% of citizens hold concealed-weapon permits, the guns-at-work debate is primarily one over principle, pitting gun rights against property rights. The group disproportionately affected by the issue is small-business owners, who don't have large corporate HR departments to manage staff conflicts.
Some business owners struggle to balance personal support for Second Amendment rights with their interest in providing a safe, healthy work environment.
Take Tim Rice, owner of Ward's Heating & Air Conditioning in Lakeland, Fla. Rice considers himself a supporter of gun rights, but he's also found his company in a situation that could have led to fatalities. Several years ago, an argument between two of Rice's employees escalated to the point where coworkers had to break them apart; Rice fears that if guns had been on the property, they would have been used.
"If I want to tell somebody that he is not allowed to bring a gun onto my property, then that should be my right," Rice said.
The Florida legislature, however, recently disagreed, and on July 1 legislation similar to Kentucky's is scheduled to go into effect in Florida. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has sued to block it, but if a federal judge rules against their injunction, the state joins a trend that began in Oklahoma, where a Weyerhaeuser paper plant in Valliant fired 12 employees after trained dogs sniffed out the weapons in their vehicles. The guns violated the employer's policy, but it was the start of hunting season, and the workers intended to head to the woods right after their shifts.
The employees sued and lost. But in 2005, Oklahoma's legislature acted to prohibit employers from banning guns in their parking lots. Business groups persuaded a federal court to overturn the law, but that ruling is being appealed. Similar laws have since been passed in Alaska, Kansas, Minnesota, and Mississippi, along with Kentucky.
All the measures claim to exempt employers from liability in the case of a tragedy like Atlantis Plastics', but some entrepreneurs still fear the consequences. When guns are accessible, conflicts intensify. Last year, an employee at a Jackson, Miss., electroplating plant settled a dispute by retrieving a gun from his car and shooting a co-worker in the leg.
John McLean, owner of McLean Tennis in Crawfordville, Fla., supports his state's new law.
"I have no problem with law-abiding citizens carrying firearms in their personal vehicles on my property," he said.
But Tom Burke, owner of TMF Business Forms in Clearwater, sees only a violation. "Governor Crist, he's shoving loaded guns down our throats," he said. "Our property is not owned by him or the Florida legislature."
In Kentucky, recent events are not likely to cause a repeal of the law.
"I'm not opposed to people having the right to bear arms, but I am opposed to people having readily available firepower to do things like this," said state Rep. David Watkins, D-Ky., whose district includes the town of Henderson. "This was a true tragedy, but I'm not willing to tackle another issue which would be very controversial. It would be an issue that I don't think I could win."
First Published: June 27, 2008: 12:04 AM EDT
One can interpret today's decision in the DC vs. Heller case from both "external" political perspectives or from a more "internal" legal one. I begin with the former: My own hope, which was spectacularly unrealized, was that the Supreme Court would unanimously accept the very well-written and -argued brief by the Solicitor General, in behalf of the Bush Administration, which argued both that the Second Amendment indeed protected an individual right to "keep and bear arms" and disagreed with the particularly rigorous test that the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had applied to the D.C. ordinance. Thus, according to the Solicitor General, the Court should remand the case back to the court below for reconsideration under a proper, somewhat looser, standard that would still have easily supported invalidating the ordinance.
Unanimous acceptance of his sensible view might have helped to diminish at least some of the culture war that has been waged now for at least four decades between advocates of "gun rights" and "gun control," who have their own interests in demonizing their opponents. Instead, the Court fractured along an all-too-predictable 5-4 axis, with the five conservatives supporting the rights of gun owners and the four liberals (or, more accurately, "moderates") seemingly supporting the most extreme version of gun "control," which is outright prohibition. The Solicitor General also offered a way for the Court to make sure that gun control would not become a key issue in this year's presidential race. Now there is no avoiding it, though, as a partisan Democrat, I confess to being relieved that the dissenters did not prevail, for the upholding of the D.C. ordinance would, in effect, have served as a massive in-kind campaign contribution to John McCain.
Then there are the "internal" features of the opinions, more interesting, no doubt, to lawyers (and law professors) than to pundits, but not without their broader interest. One of the most remarkable features of Justice Scalia's majority opinion and Justice Stevens's dissent (joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter) is the view that the Second Amendment means only what it meant at the time of its proposal and ratification in 1789-91. Thus they spend a total of 110 pages debating arcane aspects of the purported original meaning of the Amendment.
If one had any reason to believe that either Scalia or Stevens were a competent historian, then perhaps it would be worth reading the pages they write. But they are not. Both opinions are what is sometimes called "law-office history," in which each side engages in shamelessly (and shamefully) selective readings of the historical record in order to support what one strongly suspects are pre-determined positions. And both Scalia and Stevens treat each other -- and, presumably, their colleagues who signed each of the opinions -- with basic contempt, unable to accept the proposition, second nature to professional historians, that the historical record is complicated and, indeed, often contradictory. Justice Stevens, for example, writes that anyone who reads the text of the Second Amendment and its history, plus a murky 1939 decision of the Court, will find "a clear answer" to the question of whether the Second Amendment supports a "right to possess and use guns for nonmilitary purposes." This is simply foolish. Neither Scalia nor Stevens pays any real attention to a plethora of first-rate historical work written over the past decade that challenges this kind of foolish self-confidence.
What is especially ironic is that the strongest support for Scalia's position comes from acknowledging that the Second Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, has been "dynamically" interpreted and has taken on some quite different meanings from those it originally had. Whatever might have been the case in 1787 with regard the linkage of guns to service in militias -- and the historical record is far more mixed on this point than either Scalia or Stevens is willing to acknowledge -- there can be almost no doubt that by the mid-19th century, an individual right to bear arms was widely accepted as a basic attribute of American citizenship. One of the reasons that the Court in Dred Scott denied that blacks could be citizens was precisely that Chief Justice Taney recognized that citizens could carry guns, and it was basically unthinkable that blacks could do so. Thus, in effect, they could not be citizens. Charles Sumner, who, unlike Taney is quoted by Scalia, strongly endorsed the rights of anti-slavery settlers in Kansas to have guns to protect themselves against their pro-slavery opponents.
If one reads only Scalia and Stevens, one would believe that there is no dynamism to the Constitution, which is both stupid as a theory of interpretation and, more to the point, completely misleading as a way of understanding the American constitutional tradition.
All in all, a dismaying performance by the Supreme Court, whatever one thinks of the actual result.
HSPH study shows guns in homes linked to higher rates of suicide
April 17th, 2007
In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state-level rates of suicide in the United States, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that suicide rates among children, women, and men of all ages are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the April 2007 issue of The Journal of Trauma.
“We found that where there are more guns, there are more suicides,” said Matthew Miller, assistant professor of health policy and management at HSPH and lead author of the study.
Suicide ranks as one of the 15 leading causes of death in the United States; among persons under 45 years old, it is one of the top three causes of death. In 2004, more than half of the 32,439 Americans who committed suicide used a firearm.
Miller and his colleagues Steven Lippmann, David Hemenway, and Deborah Azrael used survey data to estimate rates of household firearm ownership in each of the 50 states and examined whether rates of suicide were related to rates of household gun ownership. They controlled for measures of poverty, urbanization, unemployment, drug and alcohol dependence and abuse, and mental illness. The researchers found that states with higher rates of household firearm ownership had significantly higher rates of suicide by children, women, and men. In the 15 states with the highest levels of household gun ownership, twice as many people committed suicide compared with the six states with the lowest levels, even though the population in both groups was about the same.
The association between firearm ownership and suicide was due to higher gun-related suicides; nongun-related suicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership. Also, suicide attempts using firearms, which constitute just 5 percent of all fatal and nonfatal attempts, are highly lethal — more than 90 percent of all suicidal acts by firearm are fatal. By comparison, individuals who use drugs to attempt suicide, which constitute 75 percent of all attempts, die in the attempt less than 3 percent of the time.
The researchers recommend that firearm owners take steps to make their homes safer. “Removing all firearms from one’s home is one of the most effective and straightforward steps that household decision-makers can take to reduce the risk of suicide,” says Miller. “Removing firearms may be especially effective in reducing the risk of suicide among adolescents and other potentially impulsive members of their home. Short of removing all firearms, the next best thing is to make sure that all guns in homes are very securely locked up and stored separately from secured ammunition. In a nation where more than half of all suicides are gun suicides and where more than one in three homes have firearms, one cannot talk about suicide without talking about guns,” he adds.
The bottom line, says Miller, is that “people are less likely to die from attempting suicide when they don’t have access to guns in homes.”
The study was supported by the Joyce Foundation.
Source: Harvard University
It has always been my hope
It has always been dream
that we would live in peace
turns out all we had to do- was become police
Oh, and just dont remember---guns don't kill people...wait of course guns fucking kill people, what kind of retarded motherfucker would say otherwise?
and is it peace to aim the gun is war to fire the gun?
who cares, jesus dies for you every day, you ungrateful fag...you better start being more like jesus
I dont know about you, but I want the world to look like beuatiful Georgia on my mind
THIS COULD BE YOU SOMEDAY!
oh, and for the record i dont believe in and never believed in "arming the proletariot" socialist shit. blowing people away to save themselves from their own obsolescence is just as evil as what we're doing in iraq