|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2011 Craven (512) 463-0118
Senator Hegar’s Senate Bill 321 Takes Effect, Law Abiding Texans Gain the Right to Store Firearms in their Cars While at Work
Understand your rights under the new law
Austin, Texas-State Senator Glenn Hegar (R, of Katy) is pleased to announce that as of September 1, Senate Bill 321 is now Texas law. The bill strengthens and protects the Second Amendment rights of hardworking Texas. As Texans readied for the new law, Senator Hegar’s office fielded some questions from employers and employees whose answers bear repeating.
Hegar’s new addition to state law prevents most employers from adopting policies that deny Second Amendment protections to their employees who wish to store legally owned firearms in their locked vehicles while at work. The bill responds to a number of instances across the state where employees have been denied the right to protect themselves while traveling to and from work because their employers have adopted overly restrictive policies. Texas joins neighboring Oklahoma and Louisiana and becomes the fourteenth state to enact a law of this type.
“It took three sessions to pass this bill, but it was worth all of the considerable effort it took,” said Senator Hegar, “Second Amendment rights are sacred in Texas, and this bill protects against the erosion of those rights. It is important that both employees and employers understand their rights under the new law, so I would encourage anyone with a question not answered here to contact my office immediately.”
One important point to first understand is that the bill applies to all employees legally in possession of a firearm. Some have read the bill to apply only to Concealed Handgun Licensees, an interpretation easily invalidated by a quick read of the bill. The only exception is for a small group of clearly defined hazardous chemical facilities. Those facilities may limit firearm storage in their parking areas to those employees that possess a Concealed Handgun License.
The only employers not covered by the bill, who will retain the ability to adopt policies forbidding the storage of employee firearms in employer provided parking areas are public and private elementary, middle, and high schools, and private landowners leasing oil, gas, or mineral rights on their property.
As the bill approached becoming law, some employers announced an intention to require their employees wishing to exercise their right under the bill to disclose that intent, and in some cases, other information to human resources. That proposal was brought forth and rejected by Senator Hegar as the bill made its way through the legislative session. While employees will need to make their own decision, no state or federal law requires an employee to provide such notice to their employer.
Hegar’s bill balances the rights of employer and employee. Under the new law, employees regain their express right to store legally owned firearms and ammunition at their place of work, and with it, the ability to protect themselves as they travel to and from their jobs. Employers will be protected from any lawsuit resulting from the use of a firearm stored on their property, and they can still forbid an employee from carrying a firearm in company owned vehicles. Under his new law, employers will also retain the right to prohibit firearms in their offices.
“Responsible and law-abiding gun owners should never have been forced to choose between personal protection and protecting their jobs,” said Hegar, “Thankfully, no hardworking Texan will again face that difficult and unfair choice,” he concluded.
Senator Hegar served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives and now represents Senate District 18 in the Texas Senate. He isa sixth generation Texan, and earns a living farming land that has been in his family since the mid 1800’s. He currently resides in Katy, Texas with his wife Dara, and their three children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah.