Which State Is About to Make Gun Owners a Protected Class?

By Dave Dolbee published on in Legal

A new bipartisan bill, introduced by over 20 Republicans and one Democrat seeks to make gun owners a protected class of citizens. This would be similar to the federal anti-discrimination law, where a protected class is a group of people with a common characteristic who are legally protected from discrimination on the basis of that characteristic.

Circle bar no guns sign

Pennsylvania legislators are seeking to make signs like these a thing of the past in the Keystone state.

Pennsylvania’s proposed law would build on the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act (PHRA). The proposed change, House Bill 38, aims to prevent employers from discriminating against employees who own or carry firearms. House Bill 38 is currently in committee, but should go before the legislature soon. If passed, it would have a major impact on gun owners and businesses.

The primary purpose of House Bill 38 is believed by some to keep business owners from banning firearms on their property. At a minimum, it would allow gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights and keep a firearm locked in their car. Perhaps the final language would go further and prevent business owners from banning legally carried firearms entirely.

The PHRA is not without its opposition, of course. According to Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, a group aimed at working with law enforcement and community organizations to prevent gun violence in the state, “The Second Amendment right is not overly burdened here, and so why (gun carriers) need to be in a protected class is just a little bit mind-boggling,” Goodman told the Pennsylvania Record. “It’s very easy to get a gun here. We’re an open-carry state, except for Philadelphia. It’s not very hard to get a concealed carry license. We don’t have waiting periods. We don’t have registration and license.

“The issue is, there are some places that don’t want guns on their property—private property owners, private employers, and for good reason. They are worried about workplace violence; they are worried about domestic instances spilling over into workplaces. We see that all the time.”

Goodman does not believe the change to the PHRA is equal to other protected classes with protections based on race, ethnicity, age, or disability. However, if the provision were eventually added to the PHRA, employers would be legally bound to put gun owners on equal footing with other protected classes.

Goodman believes including gun owners in the PHRA doesn’t make a lot of sense. She thinks it’s likely the legislation was introduced to work around current laws that allow private property owners to decide whether or not to allow firearms on their property.

“I think it’s really just an end run around this parking lot situation,” Goodman said. “The right to bear arms is a pretty robust right in Pennsylvania, and the language in our constitution is even broader than the language in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

What do you think of the proposed Pennsylvania Law? Should gun owners be a protected class or should business owners be allowed to set the rules on their property? Share your answers in the comment section.


Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (109)

  • Dave Dolbee


    I do not recall moderating any of your comments. I just did a quick search though and do not see any comments either. Please try again. ~Dave Dolbee


  • Randall


    How about we pass a law making the Property Owner, that does not allow Firearms on their property, ‘Legally’ & ‘Financially’ responsible for the safety of its Patrons and Employees. if they wont allow me to defend myself – They should be REQUIRED to keep me safe.


    • Deplorable Robert


      Tennessee has that or is in the process of that legislation IF our RINOs will vote on it. We here in Tennessee have a super majority of republicans, but there are two or three that say they support the 2nd Amendment, but last fall they voted present, and not Yea, so some legislation was held or tabled or some crap. Bet they won’t”get over” on us this next election time. Getting ready to legalize suppressors too. Something like the Sportsman Hearing protection act or such!


  • Dee Dee


    I do not leave my firearm in my car. If I cannot carry my firearm with me, either I do not go into the forbidden venue, or I leave my firearm at home.

    Mostly I avoid places where I cannot carry. But if there is no signage or if there is signage but no metal detectors, I carry. So yeah. Places that post no carry signs, well, they clearly do not want my business. They roll out the welcome mat for criminals.


    • Resistance is futile


      Not to mention someone can steal your gun from your car. It’s safer to keep it on you. Why be an arms supplier for criminals. What if they stole your gun and came into a gun free zone and shot up everybody? Who do you think the media and politicians will blame for this incident.


  • GT Dean


    The logic is simple, however unwilling most left (their brain at home) wing morons choose to ignore it.

    If you come to my house (private property), and I make you leave your shoes outside, then you step on glass and cut your foot, I am legally liable for your injury. Costs, etc., are my responsibility both because it is my property and because I required your vulnerability. Therefore, if I go to a private company and am killed in an attack, they are liable not only for my being killed on their property, but legally also for requiring me to leave my guns in my car (which is NOT a viable solution – try leaving a building and getting to your car under fire).

    There is a reason that law enforcement officers and military don’t leave their guns in the car and count on the fundamental goodness of humanity to keep them safe.

    Gun control is the only political debate in which the left has no ammunition aside from unfounded fear. There is no real debate; more guns in private hands lowers crime rates, every valid study ever conducted has proven this. How many more gun-free zones have to be shot up before it occurs to the mindless drones that maybe the left is full of it and disarming victims is NOT a solution to keep criminals from committing crimes?

    Of course, the left still thinks you can swing by Walmart and buy a machine gun…


  • CountryLogic


    I’m a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment but, that being said,…. My property, My rules. You don’t like my rules then stay off my property.


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