The American Bar Association, the nation’s largest lawyers group, is taking on the National Rifle Association, the biggest gun rights organization. The issue is whether an employer has the right to bar workers from leaving guns in their cars while on the job.
The ABA frames the issue as workplace violence and how to reduce it. The ABA SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON GUN VIOLENCE has recommended the following resolution, “That the American Bar Association supports the traditional property rights of private employers and other private property owners to exclude from the workplace and other private property, persons in possession of firearms or other weapons and opposes federal, state, territorial and local legislation that abrogates those rights.”
The recommendation of the ABA committee is presented on the ABA website at AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON GUN VIOLENCE REPORT TO THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES. The Background discussion begins:
On July 9, 2003, a disgruntled factory worker at a Lockheed Martin assembly plant in Meridian, Mississippi, retrieved a shotgun and semi-automatic rifle from his vehicle and went on a killing rampage in the plant, killing five and injuring nine co-workers before taking his own life. Afterward, investigators recovered three additional guns from the killer’s truck, which was parked 50 feet from the factory. This example is just one of thousands of incidents in which supervisors and co-workers have been shot by disgruntled employees, domestic violence has spilled over into the workplace, or other incidents of gun violence have taken place on business premises.
The report also cites federal estimates that roughly 1,000 people are killed at work each year and guns are used in 80 percent of those incidents.
The National Rifle Association frames the question as whether employees can protect themselves on their drive home. The powerful gun lobby has embarked on a state-by-state campaign to get legislatures to enact laws that require employers to allow their workers to bring guns on company parking lots.
In 2002, forest products giant Weyerhaeuser Corp. fired eight employees after guns were found in their cars on company lots. Federal courts have upheld the firings.
In response, the conservative Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that would prevent business owners from prohibiting guns inside locked vehicles on company property. Houston-based ConocoPhillips, which employs more than 3,000 people in Oklahoma, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law. The matter is still pending.
The NRA, meanwhile, began a boycott of the energy company’s Conoco and Phillips 66 products and stepped up efforts to get other states to adopt laws similar to Oklahoma’s.