Iowa's new concealed weapon permit law
Posted on 12/30/2010 at 12:59 PM by Russell Samson
Iowa's new law on permits for carrying concealed weapons S.F. 2379 of the 2010 legislative session goes into effect on January 1, 2011. What does this mean for Iowa employers? Nothing. Or at least, very little. Iowa employers which are 'accredited' elementary or secondary schools or Iowa employers with employees who have occasion to go onto the grounds of such schools (e.g., construction companies, companies that provide repairs, and companies that deliver goods or services from 'pop' or milk to foods to cleaning supplies) should remember that Iowa Code Section 724.4B makes it a felony for any person, including an employee, to possess a firearm, concealed or not, on the grounds of any public or private elementary or secondary school. While it may come as a surprise to some, the Iowa Constitution has no provision which would guarantee the right to 'keep and bear arms.' While the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms' from infringement, it is not suggested that one attempt to board an airplane today carrying a firearm relying on one's Second Amendment rights. It would appear in the abstract that private employers in Iowa (i.e., not 'governmental' employers) have the right to ban firearms and other weapons in the workplace. The new Iowa law does not appear to have any impact on that right. A more difficult question arises regarding the scope of such a policy can an employer's prohibition on weapons go beyond the 'workplace' itself, to prohibit employees, and even visitors to the workplace, from keeping, storing or having firearms and weapons in situations which are related to 'work' but are outside of the 'workplace' itself? In the last ten years some states have passed laws explicitly allowing employees to keep guns in locked cars that are parked on company owned parking lots. Iowa has no such law on the books. The lawyer who guarantees the Iowa Supreme Court will rule in a specific way is the lawyer that one should fire. That said, the facts that employment in Iowa is presumed to be 'at-will' and that Iowa has no constitutional provision preserving the right to keep and bear arms would appear to logically support an assertion that Iowa's public policy permits an employer to establish rules as to who will be given access to its private property, who will be employed, and on what conditions. If someone doesn't like the conditions, s/he is free to go elsewhere. The change in the law provides an opportunity for an Iowa employer to consider whether it should have some kind of 'weapons' policy, and if so, what the scope of that policy should be. It should go without saying that this is not a 'one size fits all' type of question. If an Iowa employer has a specific weapons policy, the new law provides a good opportunity to review that policy with employees.
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