The so-called “Guns In Parking Lots” or “Guns At Work” law, which takes effect September 30, 2009, will have direct implications for a number of Arizona employers, and will likely require revisions to companies’ workplace safety and “gun-free” policies.
Locked and Not Visible
This law, codified as A.R.S. § 12-781, makes it illegal for a property owner, tenant, public employer, private employer, or any other business entity to establish, maintain or enforce a policy that prohibits their employees, visitors or customers from storing firearms in their cars or motorcycles so long as the firearms are stored in a locked vehicle or in a locked compartment of a motorcycle, and are not visible from outside the vehicle. This law does not impact an employers’ right to prohibit firearms within its buildings.
However, there are a number of exceptions that allow employers to prohibit the storage of firearms in vehicles:
- If possession of a firearm or allowing storage violates state or federal law (i.e. possession without a permit).
- In employer-owned or leased vehicles or motorcycles, unless the employees are required to store or transport firearms in the course of their duties.
- If the employer is a current United States Department of Defense contractor AND part or all of the property is located on a United States military base or installation.
- If the parking lot, parking garage or other area designated for parking is on an owner- or tenant-occupied single-family detached residence.
Three Methods Of Compliance
If an employer is subject to the new law, the company can comply with the statute by implementing one of the following practices:
- The company may allow its employees, customers and visitors to store firearms in their cars so long as they comply with the locked and not visible requirements.
- The company may prohibit the storage of firearms in vehicles or motorcycles, so long as:
- the parking area is fenced or otherwise
secured by a physical barrier; and
- access to the parking area is limited or
monitored by a guard or other security
- the employer provides secure, monitored
firearm storage that is readily accessible to
people entering and exiting the premises.
- The company may prohibit the storage of firearms in vehicles parked in their primary parking area, but must provide alternative parking in a convenient area near the primary parking lot for use by those individuals who want to store a firearm in their vehicle or motorcycle, provided they comply with the locked and not visible requirements. The employer may not charge an extra fee for use of this lot.
To ensure timely compliance with this law, employers should revisit and, if necessary, revise their practices and policies regarding the use and storage of weapons on company premises before September 30, 2009. As part of this process, employers will need to decide which of the three compliance methods they will implement.
Employers should also keep in mind that any change to the company’s weapons policy should not be made in isolation. As with any change to workplace policies that may affect the safety of people on the employer’s premises, this change should not be made without also reviewing and revising other safety, security, and workplace reporting policies.
This Client Alert has been prepared by the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Lewis and Roca LLP for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Readers should seek professional legal advice on matters involving these issues.
View the entire client alert in PDF format here.