Two major safety and security organizations – the American Society of Safety Engineers and ASIS International – joined the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in filing a "friend of the court" brief urging the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a 2007 federal district court ruling striking down Oklahoma’s 2005 guns-at-work law as unconstitutional.
In a suit filed by ConocoPhillips and others – ConocoPhillips v. Henry – the lower court held that the law, which made it a crime in Oklahoma for employers to bar guns from company property, impermissibly conflicted with the general duty under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act for all employers to provide workplaces free from recognized hazards. Brady, the ASSE and ASIS filed their brief Wednesday February 27.
"Our workplaces need to be free from gun violence, and that is most likely to happen when they are free from guns," said Brady Center President Paul Helmke. "Employers, and the professionals who assist them, take seriously their responsibility to keep workplaces safe, which is why nearly 90 percent of them have policies against weapons in the workplace. To turn business owners into criminals, as the Oklahoma law tried to do, for protecting their employees and customers from workplace violence, was just wrong in addition to being unconstitutional. The real crime would be to let the National Rifle Association undermine workplace security by forcing guns into places they don’t belong."
In 2005, after the NRA launched a "fifty-state" campaign to pass guns-at-work laws modeled after Oklahoma’s and tried to initiate a boycott of ConocoPhillips because it dared to challenge the Oklahoma law, the Brady Center published "Forced Entry: The NRA’s Campaign to Force Businesses to Accept Guns at Work" and established a web page to alert the business community nationwide of the threat and provide hard data on how these laws threaten workplace safety (click here for more). Because of the business community’s strong opposition, the NRA’s campaign has met with defeat after defeat of these "forced entry" laws in states like Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Indiana, Utah and Texas.
The brief filed supports the lower court’s finding that it could "imagine no other ‘condition’ on company property that more significantly increases the risk of death or serious bodily harm to employees in a situation involving workplace violence [than the presence of firearms.]" A May 2005 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that workplaces where guns were permitted were 5 to 7 times more likely to be the site of a workplace homicide compared to workplaces where guns are prohibited.
The groups joining the Brady Center brief include the American Society of Safety Engineers, a global society of 32,000 professionals who assist employers in protecting their employees from workplace safety, health, and environmental risks, and ASIS International, the preeminent organization of professionals responsible for security at corporate and government facilities. The law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery LLC prepared the brief, with assistance from the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project.