I’ve written before about the unconscionable policies of rideshare companies Uber and Lyft, which forbid both drivers and passengers from possessing firearms. If a driver is discovered with a gun, even if they used it to defend themselves, the companies are quick to terminate their association; leaving drivers stuck between earning a few bucks and losing their life or livelihood if they follow the company policy and do so unarmed.
Joe Sawyer wants to change the status quo. The city council member in Peachtree City unfortunately knows the dangers of this policy all too well.
His daughter, 31-year-old Lauren Allen, was driving for Lyft when she was shot and killed in November. Dekalb County Police said Allen was dropping off a passenger on Cedar Croft Court when the passenger got into an argument with her boyfriend, and he fired his gun and hit Allen.
“They’re out there driving. They don’t have no protection at all, so we need to do something,” said Sawyer.
That’s why he wants to draft a proposal that allows rideshare drivers to carry a weapon.
“They got to protect themselves. If my daughter had a gun that night, she could have protected herself,” said Sawyer.
Sawyer’s hoping to enlist the help of state legislators to make it clear that the private companies don’t have the authority to usurp the right to armed self-defense for their contracted employees.
Channel 2′s Larry Spruill spoke to Attorney Jessica Cino with Krevolin Horst Law Firm on WSB Tonight at 11 p.m. She said if there was a state law allowing this to happen, it could override the company.
“Now, if we have a state law that says that Uber and Lyft drivers are, in fact, allowed to carry a concealed weapon, the state law will trump the company policy,” said Cino.
Cino said if this legislation is passed, both Uber and Lyft will probably push back in some form. They could have the option to not hire drivers who won’t follow their policies.
Well, there’s no real way for Uber or Lyft to know whether a driver is carrying a concealed firearm unless that firearm is actually used in some way. Would Uber and Lyft pull out of Georgia completely if the state legislature approved a bill specifically barring rideshare companies from disarming their drivers? It’s possible, of course, but I doubt either would take that drastic step.
What we do know is that Uber and Lyft drivers are increasingly becoming the targets of violent criminals. Detroit police are currently investigating a string of violent attacks and carjackings committed against rideshare drivers, with at least three incidents in just the past week.
“For now I’m alive, but I still am scared,” said an Uber driver who was attacked. “Just when I stop my car, they choked me from behind.”
The 40-year-old man picked up three men and two women near Linwood and Davison, on Friday. As he was driving, a suspect in the back seat tried to strangle him and, when the driver stopped, one of the suspects got out and pointed a gun while demanding his 2021 Toyota Venza. They drove off in his car, which was later recovered by police.
“Today it’s me and the next time they’ll target another driver,” the victim said.
The victim thought he was going to die.
“It’s my last night,” he said. “You feel near your death.”
No one should have to choose between earning a couple of bucks and protecting themselves from armed robbers and carjackers. I would love to see legislation in Georgia and elsewhere that precludes these rideshare companies from retaliating against contractors for exercising their right to bear arms in their own vehicles, but in the meantime don’t be surprised if more drivers decide to violate company policy in order to increase their odds of making it home safely at the end of their shift.