Oklahoma's ' guns on workplace property' law remains up in the air

Tuesday, November 23rd 2004, 10:22 am
By: News On 6

The new state law that would let workers keep guns in their cars at their workplace is still shooting blanks.

It was put on hold when companies filed a lawsuit against it. And Tuesday a federal judge decided his court was not the right place for the case to continue, which has apparently delayed it further.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says Tulsa Federal Court Judge Sven Eric Holmes sent the case to state court, which means a decision on the state law could be weeks or even months away.

This means more weeks of helplessness, according to attorney Larry Johnson, who helped draft the gun law. "If somebody driving to work is waylaid by some idiot and hurt, the owner would be responsible I think civilly for damages because they prevented him from defending himself."

But Steve Broussard, an attorney for Williams Companies and Conoco-Phillips argues the opposite saying what the company is responsible for is a safe workplace and that guns can lead to violence. "We all see every day what can happen with weapons in the workplace. This isn't a cure-all, but our policy we believe is effective to stem some of that."

Ironically, the company that started the lawsuit, Whirlpool, has dropped out of the case saying that a briefing from the Attorney General office indicated to them that they're policy of prohibiting weapons on company property is not affected by the new law. The Attorney General told the News on 6 though that's "not" what they were trying to tell Whirlpool and that Whirlpool has the wrong idea.

If that has your head spinning, here's one thing that's certain, the law is on hold until it can be hashed out in court. Steve Broussard: "As it stands now basically, the restraining order remains in effect, that means my client, ConocoPhillips and Williams can continue to enforce their policies.”

Larry Johnson: "We're defending a fundamental right, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to transport them lawfully in your car and not be fired as a result of it."

The next court date on the lawsuit is set for December 14th.