Several businesses take a new Oklahoma law to federal court

Thursday, November 4th 2004, 10:07 am
By: News On 6

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of a new Oklahoma law that allows gun owners to bring a weapon to work if it is kept in a locked vehicle.

Supporters of the law say it's a matter of self defense, opponents say it increases the risk of violence in the workplace.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin has the latest.

Strongly supported in the legislature and signed into law by the governor, House Bill 2122 allows gun owners to bring their weapons to work, if they're kept in a locked vehicle. But many workplaces have policies prohibiting firearms on the premises. And officials at major Tulsa area employers like Whirlpool say it's their right to protect their employees. Whirlpool attorney Kim Love: "With the increase of violence in the workplace that's a very serious concern of our employers, not only Whirlpool, but the other companies that have joined in that they don't want firearms anywhere on their company property." So they took their case to federal court, challenging the state law as unconstitutional, claiming it violates the right of a private property owner to exclude anyone with a weapon. Weapons they and Tulsa Police fear would increase the risk of workplace violence. But what about a citizens right to bear arms? Attorneys for Whirlpool say the 2nd amendment doesn't apply in this case, because it only prohibits Congress from acting, it doesn't keep private companies like this one from making policies to prohibit firearms on their property. For now, the law is in limbo, state attorneys arguing for it say they will abide by the judge's order, but likely appeal any decision to permanently stop the state from enforcing it. The bill's main author, state representative Jerry Ellis says he's curious and a little upset about the timing of the court challenge. In response to company concerns, he said, "people that are going to commit violence are going to do it anyway and the idea is strictly to give law abiding citizens the ability to legally carry weapons in their vehicles for protection." Attorneys opposing the law say it conflicts with federal safety regulations already in place regarding weapons at work. Both sides are now waiting to see if the federal judge issues a preliminary injunction against the law.