Saturday, December 3, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

2nd Amendment Doesn’t Bind Private Employer

(CN) - Walgreen did not violate the Second Amendment when it fired a Michigan pharmacist who shot his concealed pistol in self defense during an armed robbery at his store, the 6th Circuit ruled.

Jeremy Hoven formerly worked for Walgreen as a staff pharmacist in Benton Township, a small town in western Michigan.

When the store he worked at was first attacked by armed robbers in 2007, he asked the company to add a panic-button to increase staff protection. However, Walgreen did not respond to his request. Concerned for his personal safety, Hoven completed the training to obtain a concealed pistol license, and began brining a handgun to work, concealed in his pocket.

Hoven was working overnight at Walgreen in 2011 when the store was again attacked by armed robbers. He first tried to call 911, but when one of the masked gunmen jumped over the counter and pointed a gun at him, Hoven fired his pistol from his pocket multiple times.

No one was injured during the incident.

Walgreen fired Hoven five days later for violating Walgreen's non-escalation policy. In court, Hoven argued that his termination violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms.

But the 6th Circuit ruled against him Monday, finding that a private company is not bound by the constitutional right guaranteeing the right to bear arms under Michigan law.

"Though the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6 of the Michigan Constitution limit some state interference with individuals' right to engage in self-defense and bear arms, they do not prevent interference with these rights by private actors," Judge Karen Nelson Moore said, writing for the three-judge panel.

Further, the Michigan Self-Defense Act does not confer a "right" to engage in self-defense.

"The right, if any, that is conferred is simply the right to present a defense in a criminal case, the elements of which a factfinder may or may not determine were satisfied. The fact that the statute immunizes an individual who meets its requirements from criminal consequences but not civil liability demonstrates that it does not confer an unlimited right to engage in self-defense - it only provides a potential defense to criminal prosecution by the state," the 12-page opinion stated.

And, while Michigan law prohibits an employer from preventing an employee from applying for a concealed weapon permit, it does not state that an employer must allow the employee to bring that weapon to work.

"Perhaps Hoven believes that the right to carry a licensed concealed pistol without fear of employer retaliation would carry with it the right to use that pistol on an employer's premises in the name of self-defense without fear of employer retaliation. As established above, however, Hoven has not shown there is a legislatively enacted general right of self-defense in Michigan. Without such a right, Hoven's hypothetical reading of this hypothetical version of § 5n lacks merit," Moore concluded.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.