Fed. court voids law forbidding employers to ban guns in parking lots
The Tulsa World a federal court struck a pro-gun State measure. OK passed a law forbidding employers to ban guns in locked cars in their parking lots. ConocoPhillips and some others sued in federal court to strike it. The federal district court bought their argument that the state law conflicted with the federal 1970 Occupational Health and Safety Act, which requires employers to minimize workplace risks.
Hat tip to Joe Olson.
"That men go not to worke in the ground without their arms (and a centinell upon them.)" 1623
This ruling disarms the milita in violation of the Second Amendment.
Posted by: Rudy DiGiacinto at October 8, 2007 01:54 PM
Can the judge show at least one example where company policies (and apparently, Federal law) have successfully prevented work place violence?
I didn't think so.
The only twisted way I can think of to justify (with some facts) such a position is to assume that you can cut out at least half of the violence that might occur. Unfortunately the half you cut out is the half coming from the victims toward their attacker. They aren't allowed to fight back.
Posted by: robin at October 8, 2007 02:23 PM
Can't wait for the first case to come up after some poor Joe Employee at one of those companies is injured by a mugger or whatever in the company parking lot. The OSHA argument will be priceless to hear blathered by the company lawyers.
Posted by: emdfl at October 8, 2007 04:19 PM
The judge said that the law prohibits an effective method of reducing workplace violence.
Do parking lot gun bans actually constitute an effective method of reducing workplace violence?
Are judges required to actually have evidence, before they reach conclusions like that?
Or can they make "findings of fact" based on nothing at all?
Posted by: jdege at October 8, 2007 04:39 PM
I'm hopeful our state AG will take this to an appellate court. The OSHA justification for this ruling is ridiculous.
Interestingly, the original bill was sponsored by an Oklahoma Democrat, who is outraged that a federal judge basically told the OK Legislature to stick it.
"Rep. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, the principal author of the 2004 bill in the House, said Friday, "I guess federal judges can do anything they want. They don't have to worry about the voters."
Posted by: Jay at October 8, 2007 05:06 PM
If NRA has so much power in Washington they should be able to fix this, right away (like next week).
Posted by: 30yearprof at October 8, 2007 09:03 PM
Why did it become necessary for the Oklahoma legislature to pass a law forbidding employers to ban guns in locked cars on the company parking lots in the first place? Were employers conducting illegal searches of employees', visitors', and/or customers' vehicles? Were employees, customers, and visitors leaving firearms in plain sight in the vehicles (an invitation to theft)? Did some poor fool actually ask permission of the corporation if he/she could be allowed to keep a gun in his/her car?
This sounds like a property rights matter. It seems if the parking lots in question were open to the public (vendors, visitors, customers, sightseers, as well as employees) ConocoPhillips and OSHA would have no business dictating what items could or could not be locked within privately owned vehicles and would have no authority to search any of the vehicles. It would also follow that; if the employee parking lots were restricted to employees only and not open to public incursion the corporation might be able to request employees to refrain from bringing items the corporation found undesirable onto the premises. Whether the corporation would be able to legally search the employees' vehicles (private property) without consent would be a question of law.
Large corporations have a bad habit of doing things without legal authorization just because they say they can.
Posted by: W. W Woodward at October 9, 2007 01:17 AM
I thought the OSH Act didn't per se have any force (due to vagueness I imagine) but gets its force from the administrative rules that the Secretary promulgates. Does OSHA concern itself with workplace firearms? I would be surprised if it did.
Also, doesn't the gun law have to actually rather than theoretically interfere with the operation of the OSH law? I don't see any fully realized conflict between the two, except as invented by the mind of this judge.
Posted by: Jim W at October 9, 2007 04:01 AM
The OSHAct does contain some provisions that, while perhaps vague, are relied upon for the premise that employers must provide a workplace "free from recognized hazards." I've been out of that field for a few years, but I seem to recall some rulings from OSHA that, in general, the employee parking lot is not part of "the workplace", unless of course, you're actuall "working" there (e.g., you are the plant electrician, and you have to go out into the parking lot to fix some lights or something). If you are a regular plant worker and just pull into the parking lot, get out of your car, go inside and start your job, the parking lot is not part of your "workplace" - or so I seem to recall.
In any event, it does seem bogus.
And W. Woodward - yes, there were a couple of incidents in which people were fired (if I recall correctly) because the employer discovered they had firearms in their cars in the plant parking lot. Others were subject to search. It was in the gun rights news a couple years ago; it created a bit of a stink in the OK state legislature, and there was speculation as to whether other states would follow suit and pass similar laws. The employers did scream about the private property right issue. I actually think that argument has, or should have, some legs - it is, after all, the company's property, and if they don't want guns on that property, they should be allowed to say no guns on their property. Just as you or I should be able to say who brings what onto our property.
I don't really buy the OSHA argument, though. There is no OSHA standards for guns in parked cars in employer parking lots, and I can't imagine how they could possibly demonstrate that banning them would in any way make the workplace "safer" - just like the bans in shopping malls, restaurants and college campuses makes those places safer. Right? Right? They do, don't they?
Posted by: Bill at October 9, 2007 11:13 AM
Yep - in Oklahoma, on the first day of deer season, Conoco Phillips (I believe it was) brought in cops and told employees to unlock their cars for a search or be fired on the spot. In the cases (7?) where they found a gun in the car (all rifles I think) that person was fired on the spot.
In terms of a property rights dispute (the only justification I can see for such a ban) I split the difference.
The employer owns the lot and can control it.
The empoyee owns the car and can control it.
Therefore, they can ban you from taking a gun out of your vehicle in their lot but not from leaving one inside - even in plain sight if you so desire.
Posted by: KCSteve at October 9, 2007 12:10 PM
I'm one of the biggest pro Second Amendment voices out there, but I am torn on this one.
While I certainly respect the 2A rights of workers, I also respect the private property rights of employers. I should have the right to keep other people from bringing guns onto my private property.
I don't know what to think about this, other than no matter how it ends, someone gets screwed.
Posted by: Gullyborg at October 9, 2007 01:21 PM
This seems to me to be a case of two different rights in conflict. The right of the property owner to control the property, and the rights of the employees to keep and bear arms, or to the means of self defense.
I come down on the side of the gun owners in this case, given the semi-public nature of a car lot. I might feel differently if it were the case of a home-owner controlling his own driveway or garage.
Right to life beats out a nebulous right to make rules on the property.
Posted by: Tom Bri at October 9, 2007 04:52 PM
How many of your homes are surrounded by the property of other?
Now ask yourself does that give those others the right to say what you can or cannot have in your home?
No? Well, then there is your answer.
Your car is your property. Their lot surrounding it does not give them the right to control your property.
Especially when no corporation or company in the entire United States takes responsibility for the security of yourself or your property in their parking lot. If armed security sees vandals breaking out windshields in the parking lot, they are under orders to not interfere. They are not even required to call the police, though they are allowed to do so if they wish.
That has been the rule in every facility I have ever entered.
Therefore the argument that it is their property sans any responsibility for what takes place upon it belies their argument that it is in their power to regulate what is in the private propery surrounded by their lot.
That issue fails on both legal and moral grounds and only wins by means of financial clout. The best rulings money can buy.
Posted by: straightarrow at October 9, 2007 05:42 PM
This seems to me to be a case of two different rights in conflict. The right of the property owner to control the property, and the rights of the employees to keep and bear arms, or to the means of self defense.I actually agree with you--but since the federal judge not only decided this based on OSHA--which tells private employers how they can run their businesses, albeit for a good purpose, preventing injuries--it's rather difficult for me to take seriously the ABA's claim that this is about private property rights.
Posted by: Clayton E. Cramer at October 10, 2007 03:43 PM
The "property rights" argument is interesting.
I guess then that Conoco/Phillips could also post a sign that said "No N*****s" and that would be OK. After all, it's their property and they have the right to control who's on it, right?
This is just another example of how some Constitutional rights are deemed worthy of respect and even intrusive enforcement, while others are given very short shrift.
Posted by: mariner at October 12, 2007 05:23 PM
I have to wonder why a corporation - which is a legal fiction for convenience in doing business - should be accorded stronger rights as a 'person' than any real person. How private is corporate owned 'private' property? How can a corporation be sent to jail (not just fined - which passes to customers etc.) for misbehavior, or the shirking of responsibility which needs accompany rights? Check out www.gunlaws.com for an interesting gun-free-zone-liability idea.
Posted by: Pack Rat at December 13, 2007 02:53 PM