In the same way citizens are protected from discrimination because of race, sex, national origin, color, age, disability, ancestry or religion, Missouri legislators want to ban discrimination against gun owners. HR professionals need to be aware of this potential legislation and its implications when making hiring and employment choices.
Proposed Legislation to Protect Gun Owners
The Missouri bill protecting the rights of gun owners was sponsored by Wanda Brown. The bill passed the Missouri House by a wide margin in March of 2011. Similar legislation banning discrimination against people who own guns is being proposed in other states and is sponsored by the National Rifle Association.
However, this proposed legislation is meeting with some opposition both in Missouri and in other states where gun owners’ rights are coming into question.
Opposition to the Legislation
Opponents of this legislation are concerned both about its ramifications and about whether it is necessary:
- Some companies are concerned that this type of legislation will lead to more discrimination lawsuits and will hinder efforts to create jobs.
- Some lawmakers wonder if it is really necessary, since there are few cases of discrimination of this type in the workplace
- Other lawmakers feel that workplace discrimination against sexual orientation need to be addressed, instead of gun ownership, since that is a more pressing discrimination issue.
Arguments in Favor of Legislation
Wanda Brown, the sponsor of the bill in Missouri, states, “We would never consider giving up our First Amendment (free speech) rights for a job. Why should we give up our Second Amendment rights?”
For her and other lawmakers, this bill simply supports the Second Amendment right to own a gun.Ms. Brown is acting in part because of concerns on the national level. President Barack Obama’s survey for job candidates in high ranking positions includes a question about gun ownership. The question is: “Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.”Employers asking questions of this nature could potentially lead to adverse employment action being taken against individuals who exercise their right to own guns.
Human Resources Action
Human resource professionals need to be aware of pending legislation that will make it illegal to discriminate against gun owners. Passage of such legislation will prohibit any pre-employment questions about gun ownership or any other type of discrimination in the workplace.