Does your organization allow workers to keep guns in locked cars on company premises? Legislation pending in several states would abrogate your right to set such a policy. The National Rifle Association is waging a state-by-state battle to stop employers from making or enforcing such policies at their workplaces.
Michael Fox at Jottings By an Employers Lawyer discusses the issue of guns at the workplace, referencing a recent New York Times editorial about Workers’ Safety and the Gun Lobby. The editorial talks about the contentious battle that is being waged between many of the nation’s employers and the formidable gun lobby of the National Rifle Association. The editorial states that “Bills to deny this common-sense right to workplace safety were initially approved in three states. But they failed last year in such gun-friendly states as Florida, Georgia, Indiana and Virginia after business interests rose up in active opposition.”
This issue gathered steam in 2002 when Weyerhaeuser fired a number of its workers for having guns in their cars on company property in direct opposition to company policy. In Workplace Right or Workplace Danger, the Christian Science Monitor discusses the aftermath:
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.”
Since the Oklahoma law passed, similar legislation has been introduced in several other states, but increasingly, employers have been pushing back and defeating legislation in many states. For more on the issues involved and past legislative battles, see Employers Fire Back at Law Making it a Felony to Ban Guns on Company Premises from the January 30, 2006 issue of WorkForce.
SHRM has consistently maintained the position tht this matter ” … is best left up to the individual employer to decide whether or not to restrict weapons from the workplace. SHRM is tracking this issue closely and is working with its local affiliates on advocacy efforts to oppose any legislation that seeks to impose such mandates.” The Brady Center has also been active in monitoring this issue, and its 2005 report Forced Entry: The National Rifle Association’s Campaign to Force Businesses to Accept Guns at Work (PDF) was deemed instrumental in the defeat of some legislative initiatives.
Michael Fox’s post updates us on legislative bills pending in Texas, and SHRM has a recent update on legislation in Utah. Legislation is also pending in Georgia. To follow current legislative initiatives, bookmark The Brady Center’s guide to States with guns in the workplace bills.