INDIANAPOLIS — Gun owners in Indiana will be able to keep their firearms locked in their vehicles at work without fear of reprisal from employers if a bill progressing in the Indiana General Assembly becomes law, according to WSBT.

Opponents of the bill, mostly businesses and business groups, say it violates the rights of property owners to make policies that keep their workplaces safe.

“We feel a property owner or employer ought to have the right to say what can or cannot come on their property,” said George Raymond, vice president of human resources and labor relations for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Sen. Johnny Nugent, R-Lawrenceburg, emphasized that his bill does not prevent employers from prohibiting guns in the workplace. It simply allows people to keep legally permitted firearms outside in their vehicles while they are working.

“This allows an employee to have their gun locked in a car so they can go hunting before work or after work, and it allows means for them to defend themselves should there be an encounter before or after work,” Nugent said.

The Senate committee on corrections, criminal and civil matters voted 8-3 on Jan. 12 to make Nugent’s bill eligible for a vote in the full Senate. A House of Representatives committee heard testimony on the bill Jan. 14 but decided to wait until this week to vote on it.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, one of the three lawmakers on the Senate committee who voted against Nugent’s bill, said that besides the property rights and safety issues, the bill allows a worker who is fired for having a gun in his or her vehicle on the employer’s property to sue that employer for damages, costs, attorney fees and injunctive relief to remedy a violation, and that those are privileges not even provided for people fired because of age, race or gender discrimination.

“My take on this is it’s fundamentally unfair to give those remedies to one class of employees and not to a constitutionally protected group that’s fired for those (age, race or gender) reasons,” she said.

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