The Great Property Debate

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.

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Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 4:30 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Is your person somehow less your property than your vehicle?

    You hit on it when you said: “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?”

    Therein lies the rub…the property owner has every right to place conditions upon your entry…i.e: you are free to enter as long as you are wearing a shirt and shoes. If you are not properly clothed, you are not welcome here.

    If that applies to the bodily person why does it not apply to your car as well? “You are free to bring your vehicle onto this property under certain conditions…i.e.: no illegal drugs, no loud music or exhaust pipes, no guns”, etc.

    Why do you, under your premise, have more property rights over your vehicle than you do your actual person? That makes no sense to me.

    I think the better approach is to recognize the property rights of the property owners (lest the precedent cause severe unintended consequences in the future) and simply acknowledge the fact that, in the event that a property owner places such restrictions, they are, de facto, assuming responsibility for the well being of the people who choose to abide by their rules and render themselves defenseless…not only while on the property itself, but while transiting as well.

    The property owners who have such rules should be held financially liable for any harm that their policy causes. If you work for such a company and are mugged while getting gas on the way to work, the company is responsible for compensating you for the actual loss, medical expenses and “pain and suffering” as a result of the attack.

    The idea of rights includes both the right to make decisions for ourselves (and our property), but also the responsibility to accept the consequences of those decisions. Holding people accountable for the consequences of their choices is a much more effective means of ensuring everyone’s rights than attempting to balance competing rights by force of law.

    IMHO

  2. “Is your person somehow less your property than your vehicle?”

    Not at all. My body is my property. And by that right, a land owner can ask me to remove my presence, or body, from his property. But he can not invade my property (body) – Search me. Touch me. Etc. The property owner has the option to allow my body or disallow it, but it doesn’t go beyond that.

    To clarify my understanding. My body is my property. My vehicle is my property. A land owner’s right does not extend to inside my property.

    “you are free to enter as long as you are wearing a shirt and shoes. If you are not properly clothed, you are not welcome here.”

    Agreed, that’s within a property owner’s rights. They’re basing it upon the external, broadcasted aspect of my person. Sorry, you can’t come into Burger King if you’ve eaten a Big Mac recently would be a ridiculous intrusion into one’s personal/property rights. But you can preclude me from bringing an uneaten Big Mac onto your property.

    I think you’ll agree, that mere presence on another’s property doesn’t change ownership of sub-property. (ie: Me being in your yard doesn’t give you ownership of my shirt.)

    I view the issue one of property borders. Where does one property line end and another start? My view is that inside my vehicle, is within my property. And unless there is an aspect of broadcasting which can be pointed (noise, music, visuals, etc). Then there is no right of another over my property.

    “The property owners who have such rules should be held financially liable for any harm that their policy causes. If you work for such a company and are mugged while getting gas on the way to work, the company is responsible for compensating you for the actual loss, medical expenses and “pain and suffering” as a result of the attack.”

    I am not sure I agree with this. You are asking one entity to bear the burden of the crime committed by a separate entity. I am not sure that is a safe direction. I fear it could slippery slope into things like McDonald’s and Coca-cola being blamed and sued for obesity.

    “The idea of rights includes both the right to make decisions for ourselves (and our property), but also the responsibility to accept the consequences of those decisions.”

    Agreed, but within my vehicle is my property, and I do not think you have a right to dictate what I do on my property – unless it is directly affecting you. If I blast loud music from my car – that is directly affecting you. I might even accept if I had a naked pin-up on or in my car, you might make the case it directly affected you. But if I’ve got a Playboy shoved in the glovebox. There is no direct affect outside of my property in any way, and I do not believe any complaint can be made.

    To say otherwise, is to be resolved how? You say no Snickers. I’ve got one in my glove compartment. As long as I do not bring it out, I have never brought it onto your property. It has remained in my vehicle.

    Let’s go another direction. As nearly all property is owned. Let’s say you’re a transient (ie: gypsy or RV hippie). Should someone be forced to remove their property as they transience? Or is there home, albeit mobile, still their castle?

  3. Not at all. My body is my property. And by that right, a land owner can ask me to remove my presence, or body, from his property. But he can not invade my property (body) – Search me. Touch me. Etc. The property owner has the option to allow my body or disallow it, but it doesn’t go beyond that.

    Of course they don’t have any right to search you. Or your vehicle. However, if they set conditions upon your entry, and they discover you have failed to meet them, they can ask you to leave. If you refuse to do so, you are trespassing.

    In the event that it is your employer, should you fail to abide by the rules, you can be fired.

    That’s how the law works in regard to your person on their property. I don’t think you’ve made your case as to why this is any different about your vehicle.

    If they have a rule that says “no guns on our property” and you fail to abide by it, you are trespassing. That doesn’t give them the power to search either you OR your vehicle, but if they discover somehow that you are breaking their rules, what possible difference does it make whether you were doing so by keeping the gun in the car, on your person, or in a briefcase?

    Are you saying that, once your vehicle is in their parking lot, they have no ability, under any circumstances, to force you to remove it? If not…if there is a circumstance where they can ask you to leave or charge you with trespassing…what is that circumstance and why doesn’t that circumstance include them discovering that you’ve violated a policy of some kind (like…say…no guns)?

    Let’s go another direction. As nearly all property is owned. Let’s say you’re a transient (ie: gypsy or RV hippie). Should someone be forced to remove their property as they transience? Or is there home, albeit mobile, still their castle?

    I don’t understand your premise here. If they are on private property, they are trespassing unless they were invited to be there. If the property owner says “I have no problem with you staying here, but you can’t have any guns” and they fail to live up to the stipulation, they are trespassing.

    Are you saying that transients have some sort of right to transit or use private property without permission? I beg to differ.

    And I simply don’t think you’re making your point.

    Either property owners have the right to determine who and under what conditions others are invited to enter and use their property, or they don’t. If they don’t, then ownership of property is meaningless. Instead of buying my own, I might as well just use yours…because, after all, as soon as I drive my vehicle onto your property, I’m there to stay; there is nothing you can do about it. My vehicle is my castle and you can’t tell me what I can do with it.

  4. Oh…and by the way…if one of their policies is “all persons and property are subject to search upon entry”, then they CAN search you. By entering, you agreed to the stipulation and thereby have authorized the search implicitly.

    If you don’t care to be searched, then you can choose not to enter.

    If they had no such stipulation and searched your vehicle, your belongings, or even yourself, without your knowledge or permission, that’s a different story.

    A search without either probable cause or consent is a violation of the fourth amendment.

  5. I agree that can ask to search my body or vehicle before entry. They can ask me at any time to submit to such or to leave their property.

    But I never have to allow them to search, nor to implicate myself in anyway. And they have no right to do so without my express permission.

    “Are you saying that, once your vehicle is in their parking lot, they have no ability, under any circumstances, to force you to remove it?”

    Not at all, I believe they can always ask me to remove it.

    “A search without either probable cause or consent is a violation of the fourth amendment.”

    Actually it’s not if it’s done by a private entity, but it is a violation of the same moral principal. And perhaps that’s what I am partly getting at. I believe the Constitution expresses a moral code, it is enforced against government. But the morals appy to most “governance” situations.

    I have no obligation to incriminate myself, and no duty to actually expose my privacy by stating what is inside my property.

    I believe a land owner can authorize me to bring my property or person onto their property. But cannot dictate what is done inside my own propert (vehicle).

  6. Actually it’s not if it’s done by a private entity, but it is a violation of the same moral principal. And perhaps that’s what I am partly getting at.

    I disagree with you on that point as well.

    The founders were smart enough to say what they meant.

    In the case of the first amendment, they said very clearly “congress shall make no law…”

    The fourth amendment carries no such stipulation (nor does the second, incidentally). It simply says “The right of the people…shall not be violated”.

    They didn’t stipulate by whom…just that the right may not be violated.

    I think they knew exactly what they were saying there.

    I don’t have the power to search you without probable cause or consent than the government does and if I do so, I’m violating your fourth amendment rights.

    Rights that would exist, by the way, whether that old piece of paper in Washington DC called “the Constitution” existed or not.

    The bottom line is that we don’t get to pick and choose which rights we’re going to support. We don’t get to ignore the ones we don’t like or that inconvenience us.

    We either support the rights of individuals, or we don’t. The fact remains (and I still don’t think you’ve made the case otherwise) that a property owner has every right to decide who is invited there and under what conditions.

    If a condition of entry is “no guns allowed” and you enter with a gun in your car, on your person, or in a handbag, you are trespassing…pure and simple.

  7. Just to clarify, I believe the rights outlayed in the Constitution are inherent rights. But the document’s legal enforcement applies to the government.

    I guess I just view it as a property bounds issue. I view your property ending at my vehicle. You have the right to control whether my vehicle can cross your property but not to control what goes on inside.

    *shrug*

    But I do enjoy the counter-points. And will continue to think on the issue.

    🙂


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