As the National Rifle Association promotes a boycott of the ConocoPhillips oil company, the firm and others are challenging in court a 2003 Oklahoma law that gives workers the right to keep guns in vehicles at business parking lots. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre says that if the Oklahoma law is voided, “it could be a blueprint for thousands of corporations across this country to declare their parking lots anti-Second Amendment zones, which could in effect gut ‘carry’ laws in 38 states and restrict hunters on every hunting trip.”
The campaign is part of an NRA push to expand the rights of gun owners to carry their firearms wherever they want, warns Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control group. Although workplace homicides have declined dramatically in the past decade, weapons bans appear to make workers safer, says a recent study in North Carolina. ConocoPhillips has “an absolute duty to its shareholders to not back out,” says Prof. Paul Finkelman of the University of Tulsa law school. “Employers have a right to restrict what their employees do on their premises.” And they’re still liable if someone is shot on their property, other experts note. As recently as 1987, just six states had laws mandating that a gun owner be allowed a permit to carry a concealed weapon; today, 33 states have such “shall-issue” laws. Alaska and Vermont have no laws restricting concealed weapons.