CHARLESTON \u2014 State business leaders are disappointed that Gov. Jim Justice signed HB 4187 \u2014 nicknamed the parking lot gun bill \u2014 into law over their objections about safety and private property rights. They had called on Justice to veto the bill.\r\n\r\nJustice signed the bill on March 21, the same day it reached his office, though notice of the signature wasn\u2019t posted until early this week.\r\n\r\nWest Virginia Manufacturers Association President Rebecca McPhail commented in an email exchange, \u201cNeedless to say, our members had hoped the governor would veto the bill. While the WVMA and its members support the Second Amendment, we believe that there must be a balance between Second Amendment and private property rights.\r\n\u201cThis is especially true with regard to an employer\u2019s ability to [enact] operational policies for the safety and security of our facilities and the communities in which they are located,\u201d she said.\r\nHB 4187, officially called the Business Liability and Protection Act, says no private or public sector employer may prevent an employee, customer or invitee from keeping a firearm properly locked out of sight inside their vehicle from parking in their parking lot.\r\n\r\nThe property owner may not ask the driver if there is a gun in the vehicle and may not search the vehicle. An employer may not condition employment upon gun ownership or intention to keep a gun locked in the employee\u2019s car.\r\n\r\nThe bill exempts vehicles owned or leased by the employer for the employee\u2019s use.\r\n\r\nState Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts said the chamber and many others had written to Justice describing their concerns.\r\n\r\nBut Justice signed it the day it was presented to him, Roberts said, so they\u2019re concerned he didn\u2019t fully appreciate how far it goes compared to similar legislation in other states. They\u2019d hoped he\u2019d take more time to review it.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn that regard we\u2019re disappointed.\u201d\r\nAs written, he said, the bill is a mistake. \u201cWe continue to hear from employers, they\u2019re telling us they\u2019re just shaking their heads.\u201d\r\nAs previously reported, some employers who oppose the bill compiled a comparison of other state laws. Alabama, for instance, allows employers to forbid weapons inside secured, restricted access areas and certain other areas.\r\n\r\nArizona exempts fenced, guarded lots with secure weapon storage.\r\n\r\nGeorgia exempts parking lots contiguous to facilities providing natural gas transmission and liquid petroleum transmission, and Texas exempts property owned or leased by a chemical manufacturer or oil and gas refiner.\r\nHere, in the House, Judiciary chair John Shott, R-Mercer, offered an amendment along these lines that was rejected.\r\n\r\nOpponents had also hoped to add an amendment to allow churches to make their own rules for their parking lots. The House overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to that effect offered by Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, in a 14-84 vote.\r\n\r\nAsked if they are considering offering legislation next session to add exemptions to the law, McPhail and Roberts both said it\u2019s too soon to say.\r\n\r\nMcPhail said, \u201cMoving forward we will continue to work with our membership to evaluate how similar laws have been implemented in other states, so that we can comply with the law but still provide the safest possible environment for our workers. It is too soon to say if that could include revisiting the legislation next session.\u201d\r\nRoberts said, \u201cWe\u2019re still thinking about what can be done to make West Virginia as business friendly as possible. \u2026 We think this bill is a step in the wrong direction.\u201d\r\nThey can\u2019t predict if the measure by itself will cause businesses not to invest in the state. \u201cWe know the employers are very aware. We don\u2019t think it helps with job creation and econ development.\u201d\r\nThere\u2019s no question the business community would like to have it changed, Roberts said, but they know the legislative will to do it isn\u2019t there yet. An information campaign is needed.\r\n\r\nCompanies need the ability to determine what should happen around their own business,\u201d he said.