Indiana Law Allows

Guns in Employee Cars

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Workplace Violence Policies

in a Muddle as of July 1 

            Joining Minnesota and several other states, Indiana law as of July 1, 2010 will permit citizens owning guns to keep them in their locked automobiles when parked on company property.  The law passed through the legislature to the governor for signature despite strong objections from manufacturers’ groups and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.  With some exceptions, the Possession of Firearms and Ammunition in Locked Vehicles Law will require that employers refrain from adopting or enforcing any rule that prevents an employee (including a temp) from storing firearms and ammunition in the employee’s locked vehicle trunk, in the glove compartment of the locked vehicle, and otherwise out of plain sight in the employee’s locked vehicle.  The law is only applicable to individuals who may legally possess a firearm or ammunition without a specific federal license. 

            The law has no jurisdiction over a child caring institution, an emergency shelter care child caring institution, a private security facility, a group home, an emergency shelter care group home, or a child care center.  Given the vagueness of some of these terms, e.g., a “group home,” litigation will no doubt arise to sharpen the definitions. 

            Other exceptions:  An employee who uses his vehicle to transport developmentally disabled individuals has no rights under the Act.  The law does not apply to school property or school buses, to property owned by a public electric utility, or to the property of a domestic violence shelter.        

            Violence in the workplace policies, of course, have been drafted to ban weapons of any kind in the employer’s facility, including in the parking lot.  Since the new Indiana law will permit guns and ammunition in locked vehicles, employers will have to amend their policies to restrict the scope of the policy to the storage of guns and ammunition in unlocked cars, or in locked cars where the weapon or ammunition is in plain sight.  An employer’s enforcement of the policy, as a practical matter, would generally involve spot checks to make sure employee vehicles are locked (and that a gun or rifle is out of sight). This would be an impractical and inefficient allocation of personnel resources.  In other words, workplace violence policies will be inapplicable to guns in employee vehicles. 

            The legislation arrives just a few weeks after an incident in Portage, Indiana, where a disgruntled office employee retrieved a gun from his car.  He shot out an office window attempting to shoot his boss, who had given him a poor performance review

3/29/10