You may not think that the manufacture of "bathroom tissue" could be an explosive issue, but the Department of Homeland Security does. And now a tiny phrase in Florida's controversial gun statute gave a Florida toilet paper plant an exemption to a law allowing employees to keep firearms locked in their cars in the company lot, the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald report.
The law (HB 503), which was signed on July 1 by Governor Crist, allows workers with concealed weapons permits to keep their firearms in their cars in company parking lots.
Some employers scrambled to find exemptions for which they qualify under the law. Universal Studios Orlando, for example, got an exemption because there is a public school on the property, the St. Petersburg Times reports. And Walt Disney World got an exemption because it has a federal explosives permit for its fireworks shows, the newspaper reports.
Then there's Georgia-Pacific's "Soft 'n Gentle" toilet paper plant in Palatka, which says it is exempt from the law and cites rules from the DHS and the Coast Guard!
Huh? How could a paper pulp mill get an exemption for national security, you may ask. Well, as the newspapers note, there's a short, somewhat ambiguous clause in the new law that gives an exemption to any property upon which possession of a firearm is prohibited "pursuant to any federal law."
Bingo! Toilet paper may seem harmless, but the No. 6 oil that runs the mill is downright explosive! And it arrives on barges on the St. John's River that come under both DHS regulation and maritime laws that require the company to have a written safety facility plan--that must ban weapons--on file with the Coast Guard.
So, because terrorists could use weapons to blow up barges at a toilet paper plant, the company is exempt from the law, and the plant security plan remains top secret.
And the NRA isn't happy. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told reporters that "Georgia-Pacific is putting toilet paper ahead of the lives of hardworking men and women," adding that the law should never have included the fuzzy wording.
Sources: Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times