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Proposed law allows guns in cars at work

BISMARCK (AP) -- North Dakota workers should be able to keep guns locked in their cars and trucks while at work, even if the employer doesn't allow firearms on company property, advocates said Tuesday.

The North Dakota Senate's Industry, Business and Labor Committee reviewed a bill that says employers may not discipline a worker for having a legally owned gun in his or her vehicle.

Employees who own guns have a constitutional right to safely store it while they work, supporters of the measure said.

The House approved the bill 82-12 last month. The Senate committee took no action on it Tuesday.

Rep. Scot Kelsh, D-Fargo, said he introduced the legislation after a man in his district was told he couldn't keep his gun locked in his car while he was at work.

The man is a shooting hobbyist who likes to drive to a Grand Forks gun range straight from work, and he didn't want to violate company policy even though the gun was hidden, Kelsh said.

"I wanted this to apply to people who really want to do the right thing," Kelsh said. "They could have the firearm stowed in the trunk of their car and the employer may or may not know about it. But rather than do that, these constituents asked me to change the law so they're in compliance, because they want to do the right thing."

The measure wouldn't apply to schools, colleges, jails or companies that work with explosives. Business representatives said they'd like exceptions for other companies where guns may be dangerous.

They said the legislation should not apply to domestic violence shelters, camps for oil field workers and sites that handle hazardous waste. They said it should also let a business prevent an employee from keeping a gun if he or she poses a threat of violence.

"The bad guys are going to ignore the signs," National Rifle Association Lobbyist Darin Goens said. "We're talking about legislation that keeps the good guys honest. The guys that are shooters, hunters, the guys that carry concealed, that want to do the right thing and obey their company's policy of not having guns in the facility and need a place to store it."

The bill is HB1438.