Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Five Dead in Shooting at Henderson, KY Plastics Plant

Our prayers go out to five families who lost loved ones this morning at a shooting rampage in Henderson, Kentucky. The gunman was an employee of Atlantis Plastics, where he shot four co-workers before committing suicide. Two others were shot but transferred to a local hospital, according to the New York Times.

The shooter had argued with his supervisor earlier in his shift. After leaving the plant to take his break, the shooter returned with a handgun.

Kentucky's concealed gun statute allows employees to keep guns in their cars at work.

The names of the victims and the shooter have not been released. Atlantis is scheduled to hold a press conference at 3:00 p.m. today.

The shooting comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hold that the second amendment right to bear arms applies to individuals, not just militias. That will form the basis for the Court affirming the D.C. Circuit's decision that the D.C. gun ban -- the strictest in the nation -- is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court should release its opinion in the Heller case sometime this week, possibly as soon as today. Justice Antonin Scalia, who has not written a majority opinion this Term, is expected write it.

Heller, because it arose in the District of Columbia, probably will not address the question of whether the second amendment applies to the states, by being incorporated into the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment.

Those who oppose gun rights, consequently, will argue that Kentucky employers can -- and should -- ban employees from keeping guns in their cars at work. That will be a hard question. We allow employers to force their workers to forgo certain constitutional rights -- such as the right to free speech, when they sign a confidentiality agreement. So perhaps the employer similarly can condition employment on not exercising the second amendment right to bear arms.

In addition to the human loss, the Henderson shooting reaffirms stereotypes about Kentucky and rural America generally. Barack Obama undoubtedly feels vindicated that at least one bitter person did cling to his gun this week.

Just as bad facts should not make bad law, the Henderson shooting should not be extrapolated to reflect all Kentuckians. The Henderson shooting is an aberration. That's why it is such big news. The District of Columbia, on the other hand, has started to resemble Baghdad, complete with check points. Thirty years of the most stringent gun control law in the country made the District more dangerous, by disarming the citizenry. It is no model for Kentucky.

Update: The death toll is now six.

Update: The U. S. Supreme Court has issued three opinions, but Heller was not among them. If the Court had planned to hand down Heller today, I'm glad they didn't.


Jean said...

What the world does the shooting have anything to do with the Supreme Court or Barack Obama? Workplace shootings happen all over the country, and is hardly a "negative sterotype" of Kentucky.

Shame on you for politicizing this tragedy. I pray for the dead, injured, and their families and friends.

cg2112 said...

No workplace can take away any Constitutional right. The Constitution protects the people from the government, not from employers. Signing a non-disclosure agreement is not a violation of your free speech. You employer banning firearms from company property does not violate your 2nd Amendment rights.

If anything, law's like Kentucky's carry law, which prohibits employers from banning firearms on their own private property, is a violation of that employers property rights.