Should/can employers ban firearms in your car?

Discussion in 'Hunters Rights Forum' started by The Other David, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. The Other David

    The Other David Elite Refuge Member

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    from the August 12, 2005 edition

    Worker right or workplace danger?

    NRA and employers square off over Oklahoma law that allows the practice.

    By Kris Axtman and Mark Clayton | Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

    HOUSTON AND BOSTON – Jason Smith is in a tough spot. He works for a company he has been asked to boycott.
    In an effort to keep weapons out of the workplace, his employer, ConocoPhillips, is challenging state law and has forbidden workers to leave guns in their cars in company parking lots. Now, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is encouraging gun owners to stop buying ConocoPhillips gasoline.

    The boycott is the latest skirmish in an expanding battle over gun control. Now that many states allow citizens to carry concealed weapons, the NRA is pushing to eliminate remaining restrictions on where those guns can be taken. Gun-control groups - and some employers - are fighting back. The outcome could decide whether more states expand the rights of licensed owners to carry their guns where they want, despite recent evidence that workplace gun bans do lower risk.

    This issue is simmering in states across the country, says Stephen Halbrook, a Virginia lawyer who handles many Second Amendment cases. "But it is in brightest relief in Oklahoma."

    That's because Oklahoma is one of only two states with statutes that specifically prohibit employers from banning weapons on their own property. (Kentucky is the other state.) ConocoPhillips and several other employers are challenging the 2003 Oklahoma law in federal court.

    "ConocoPhillips supports the Second Amendment and respects the rights of law abiding citizens to own guns," the Houston-based oil company says in a written statement. "Our primary concern is the safety of all our employees. We are simply trying to provide a safe and secure working environment for our employees by keeping guns out of our facilities, including our company parking lots."

    But gun-control opponents see the issue in constitutional terms.

    "This case clearly goes to the very core of the freedom of Americans to own and travel with firearms in this country," says Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA. If companies successfully block the Oklahoma law, "it could be a blueprint for thousands of corporations across this country to declare their parking lots anti-Second Amendment zones, which could in effect gut 'carry' laws in 38 states and restrict hunters on every hunting trip." Conceivably, gun owners would have nowhere to get a sandwich or fill up with gas, he adds.

    The NRA will soon have billboards up in 10 to 15 states where ConocoPhillips has major interests, he says. The billboards will read: "ConocoPhillips is No Friend of the Second Amendment."

    The campaign is part of a larger NRA push to expand the rights of gun owners to carry their firearms wherever they want, warns Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control group. He points to two bills backed by the NRA this past legislative session:

    • In April, Arizona lawmakers passed a bill to allow concealed handguns in bars. Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed the bill, angering the NRA but pleasing many owners of restaurants and bars in that state.

    • That same month, Florida lawmakers passed a bill significantly broadening the circumstances under which a person is allowed to shoot another in self defense.

    For their part, Mr. Smith and other ConocoPhillips employees in Oklahoma are supporting the NRA. "We are concerned about our rights, and very disturbed that the company is taking such steps," Smith says. In fact, there has been no violent incident involving a firearm at the Oklahoma refinery, he adds, even though "it's pretty common for guys to have weapons in their vehicles. That's just part of the culture here."

    Shootings at refineries are not unheard of. In 1982, for instance, a man dismissed from his job at a Bridgeport, Texas, gasoline plant, returned with a rifle and killed his supervisor and wounded a co-worker, then died in a crash as he fled.

    Although workplace homicides have declined dramatically in the past decade, weapons bans do appear to make workers safer, according to a recent study. Among hundreds of North Carolina companies surveyed, those that permitted guns to be brought to work saw a risk of homicide five times greater than companies that banned guns at work. "We saw a statistically significant increase in the chances of having a killing in any workplace that permitted guns," says Dana Loomis, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Oklahoma's debate over guns at work got its start in 2002, when Weyerhaeuser employees were fired for having left firearms locked in their vehicles outside the plant. The state legislature, in overwhelming support of the workers, banned companies from restricting workers' ability to carry legal firearms in their vehicles.

    Almost a dozen companies, including ConocoPhillips, filed a federal lawsuit to block that law. It is still tied up in court, but Mr. LaPierre says three of the companies have backed out after NRA pressure: "I think they realized that they had gotten into a gun crusade that has nothing to do with their bottom line, shareholder value, or the mission of their companies."

    Others disagree.

    ConocoPhillips has "an absolute duty to its shareholders to not back out," says Paul Finkelman, an expert in constitutional law at the University of Tulsa law school. "Employers have a right to restrict what their employees do on their premises." And they're still liable if someone is shot on their property, other legal experts note.

    As recently as 1987, just six states had laws mandating that a gun owner be allowed a permit to carry a concealed weapon, says Ann Kaminstein, a lawyer and president of DV Initiative, a workplace- violence consulting firm in Concord, Mass. Today 33 states have such "shall-issue" laws, she says. And two, Alaska and Vermont, have no laws at all restricting concealed weapons.

    The NRA's boycott against ConocoPhillips probably won't hurt the company much, experts say. Most of the gas stations carrying the company name are independently owned. But others say the end result could have a profound impact. "This kind of thing, if it became a trend, would definitely deter a lot of companies from adopting weapons-free policies," Ms. Kaminstein says.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0812/p01s02-ussc.html?s=widep
     
  2. whistlers

    whistlers Senior Refuge Member

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    Having worked in a number of auto plants, steel mills, refineries, universities, etc... over the years I have reached the conclusion that they make the rules there whether I like them or not. I've worked at plants that won't allow you to come or go without being searched along with a search of your vehicle if they want. If you refuse the result is simple, you can't/won't work there.
    Of course my experience is that of a contractor's, others may have had differing experiences.
    I highly doubt any of the state or federal politicians will get involved or give much of a hoot? Of course I could be wrong.
    Individual rights are on the backslide. The rights provided in the second ammendment are individual rights.
    Meanwhile the rights of large corporations seem to be expanding? Again, I could be wrong.
     
  3. A5Mag12

    A5Mag12 Elite Refuge Member

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    I'm an Endowment member of the NRA and a staunch supporter of the second amendment. But the NRA is off on this one. It's private property they can make the rules as they see fit. I have never heard of a work place that did not ban guns in the parking lot. The NRA is stupid for getting into this fight, nothing to gain and too much to lose. This is not a gun control issue it is a property rights issue.
     
  4. Teacher's Pit

    Teacher's Pit Elite Refuge Member

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    I totally agree with you..
     
  5. The Other David

    The Other David Elite Refuge Member

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    For me it's not such a simple decision.

    For areas where only employees are permitted, then I think the employer can specify what the employee can carry, wear, etc.

    If the property is open to the public, as were these parking lots, then I think different rules should apply. If the employer can prohibit carrying items that are legal to carry in all other locations I think there may be some constitutional issues. For example, the employer could prohibit anyone coming on the property from carrying beer in his trunk, cigarettes, magazines, CDs, etc.

    Note that the state legislature in OK and KY have passed laws that prevent companies from having such rules.

    David
     
  6. Teacher's Pit

    Teacher's Pit Elite Refuge Member

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    David,
    I did not agree that public parking should, excluding schools and non-hunted parks, not allow legal law abiding gun owners to have pistols, rifles or shot guns in their vehicles.
    I agree that private corporations have the right to say who can park in their lots. What cannot be parked in their lots. And what personal possessions can be brought upon their property.
    I bet if you look a little further into it you will find that most policies of companies use the term "Weapons" and guns are just one part of their all inclusive list.
    It would not be prudent to allow weapons on company property were someone could become injured.
    An employee should have some assurances of a safe work environment. And that environment begins and ends at the property line.
    I have no problem with our company's "no weapons" policy. And I have yet to hear anyone else here complain.
     
  7. The Other David

    The Other David Elite Refuge Member

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    TP,

    My comments apply ONLY to property that is public access.

    BTW, there is no evidence that such a policy improves the safety of workers or anyone else.

    If the same logic were to apply, apparently stores could have the same restrictions on their parking lots.

    The courts will settle this, I suppose.

    David
     
  8. Teacher's Pit

    Teacher's Pit Elite Refuge Member

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    David,
    I believe that it or has been argued that a patron should have some reasonable assurance of a safe environment before and when they enter a store.

    Most Shopping Malls have an active Security patrolling.
    I know that if one purchases a gun from Wal-Mart that a representative of Wal-Mart will carry the gun outside the store and then give it to the purchaser. I would call that a reasonable assurance of safety.
    Now I am not simple minded enough to believe that the patron could not load the weapon and go back in and light the store up.

    Can you imagine the legal consequences of no weapons policy to a Corporation that had several employees injured or killed by another employee?

    With a policy in place the courts will see this as a wise and prudent act. Without, $$$$$$$$$

    It makes me feel safer knowing that employees know that they will be dismissed if they bring a firearm onto company property.
     
  9. Richard C

    Richard C Elite Refuge Member

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    Nra is off their rocker on this one!
     
  10. 'tween_fly_ways

    'tween_fly_ways Moderator Moderator

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    Tough one--private property rights vs. second ammendment, but that's only on the surface.

    I would say private property rights trump. Whether the public has "access" or no, the parking lot is still the company's property (if I read the story right).

    I disagree with the company's whole premise, however, and would support a boycott as a legitimate counter to their actions. Anyone looking to actually use a gun at a business isn't going to be one bit concerned about any policy. :rolleyes: (and any lawyer isn't going to allow company policy to limit his client's take)

    As to the employees, well, it's up to them. They can accept it as a tradeoff for their job (which they may love) or they can look elsewhere.

    We are slowly being "scared" into individual padded rooms. :nutz
     

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