A bill pitting gun rights versus personal property rights will now be debated on the Senate floor.
SB67 would block employers from instituting policies that would ban employees from bringing guns onto the company parking lot. The Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee gave the bill a favorable recommendation Tuesday by a 4-2 vote.
For bill sponsor Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, it's not about gun rights. It's about "life" rights and the ability of people to protect themselves on the road.
"People have characterized this as a gun rights versus property rights bill. That's missing the point," Madsen said. "What this is about is a life right versus a property right ... when you put the opposing interests on the scales, we find that life does weigh heavier than a property right."
Business owners, however, believe they should be able to dictate their own policies and manage their property as they see fit.
"This bill is not business friendly," said Monica Whalan, president of the Employer's Council. "This bill does not give the proper decision-maker the right to make the appropriate balance."
But if employees ban guns from parking lots, "it would be a tremendous blow" to the concealed weapons permit program, said Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan.
"You aren't going to be able to go very far, in fact I don't think you can go anywhere," Buttars said. "It pretty much neuters your right to carry a concealed weapon."
If employees want to carry a gun in their car, go ahead just park on the street, said Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, who with Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, voted against the bill.
"The property rights of the business should be paramount in this case," Romero said. "It may be a little less accessible for them to walk a little bit further and park on a public street."
Gun owners spoke in favor of the bill, saying each individual has a right to protect himself."If it's not approved, they are defenseless going from home to work and from work to return home," said Elwood Powell of the Utah Shooting Sports Council. "If a person decides he's not going to abide by his employer's rule, he's forced to leave (his gun) at home."