A rather lively ongoing debate has existed in regards to proposed “Parking Lot” laws. That would protect the keeping of a firearm within a vehicle, even an employer parking lot.
The issue has been debated as one of property rights, and has been very heated as libertarian viewpoints clash.
Premise 1: If a business owner says no guns, and you store a firearm in your vehicle parked in the business’ parking lot – you are clearly violating the business owner’s private property rights.
Is that the case? Is one violating the other’s property rights in the name of personal rights? It would seem so. If a store owner posts a sign that reads “NO FIREARMS”, I believe the bringing in of such without authorization to in fact violate the property owner’s rights. It’s a problem we often see where some gun toter goes off the deep end exclaiming how they have a right to carry a firearm, blah, blah, blah….but that right is a public right. It does not give you the right to trample over a business owner’s property rights. If Walmart states “No Firearms”, that is their right. To disregard such is to violate the sanctity of their private ownership rights.
So from a casual glance, this would seem to be the case. And many have voiced concerns based on this notion. But I believe this viewpoint to be absolutely and rationally wrong. And stems from a simple fallacy, the failing to account a multi-dimensional existence.
Premise 2: The vehicle is private property. And therefore not subject to such governance, even upon another’s property.
I am going to endeavor to show why I believe this latter premise to be correct. First off, we need to make some declarative premises before we can make any conclusions. Namely, a) the land is private property and the owner has rights of force on that property, b) a vehicle is private property and the owner has rights of force on that property.
The owner of the property, has a clear right to allow or refuse your vehicle entry. This is their right. They can put up a NO TRESSPASSING sign and say “Keep off”. Likewise, they can give you permission to enter their property, or to bring your vehicle. There is a significant difference between entering a property and bringing one’s vehicle. If you step upon someone’s land, you are an individual on another person’s property. But when you bring a vehicle onto someone else’s land, you have brought property onto property.
This creates a very different scenario. As both pieces of property have exclusive and sole rights of ownership. The old saying is “You have the right to swing your fist until it impacts someone else’s face.” The same is true in regards to property. You have the right to your property, until it hit’s another person’s property.
So let’s look at this scenario of parking lot vs car. If, as the first would advocate, the land owner would have sole authoritarian rights and be able to dictate anything, including what can be inside your vehicle. He would also be able to take anything from your vehicle as well, after all, it’s on his property. In fact, if the mere presence of a vehicle on his property, made it fall under his domain, he could freely give it to someone else. In fact, this would be true for any property. The land owner could simply take your cell phone or wallet. By mere presence on his property. What is there to stop this?
The fact that it is YOUR property. This is the big deciding factor. If someone come on my property, I can ask them to leave. But I don’t have the right to their wallet and cell phone. The same is true regarding a vehicle. The land owner has the right to allow or disallow my vehicle. But they do not have right to my property.
People need to realize we live in a 3-dimensional universe. Their property, ceases when it hits the boundaries of mine. Otherwise, I could slap a NO TRESPASSING sign and shoot down planes flying overhead. Afterall, they’re flying overhead – that would just be ridiculous. We all know it. It’s clear there are boundaries to one’s land rights. And one of those is when it impacts another person’s property.
A property owner can allow a vehicle or not, but it’s based on the vehicle and the owner. What is inside it my property is of my property, a decision based on that moves dangerously toward one individual searching another’s property without permission.
Now I will concede that I might allow for a “visibility” aspect. One might be able to argue that one can make such demands when said item is clearly visible. And why might I allow or concede on such a point? Noise ordinances. We have clearly established that the making of noise can “tresspass” a neighboring individual’s rights. If I am blasting my ratio at 2 am in the morning it is likely to be deemed inappropriate and an infringement to my neighbor’s rights to a reasonably peaceful and quiet evening. While not noise, one might argue that visibility is not too much different and if there is a firearm clearly visible in plain sight, that no search or invasion of my property or privacy was done. The owner might argue the ‘sight of’ has caused distress to himself and/or his other guests. Now the property owner may specifically instruct me to remove my vehicle. Please note the deciding term is “specifically”.
But if a firearm was stored hidden away, under the seat or in the trunk. There is no mean’s for the land owner to find any specificity with in regards to my vehicle. The land owner can decide if they want to allow my vehicle or not. But so long as my firearm, or any other items, are inside my vehicle. They are within MY property. The land owner merely has the right to allow my property on his or not. They have no say OVER my property, nor over me. Which is why I have no obligation to inform the property owner of the presence of a firearm. A sign that says “NO FIREARM” or “NO FOOD” on premises or property, hold true on that property. But not in my own property.