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Hey, we can buy a video game that allows us to shoot JFK, we can shoot hunters in Wisconsin, and, carry a gun to work in Oklahoma! It's our right!


An Oklahoma Version of Guns vs. Butter



Published: November 24, 2004



ULSA, Okla., Nov. 23 - The Oklahoma Legislature considers guns and the workplace a good mix. This year, it approved by an overwhelming margin a law allowing employees to keep firearms in locked vehicles on company property, making Oklahoma the envy of pro-gun groups throughout the United States.


A federal judge here and a group of prominent companies in Oklahoma, however, cannot stomach the mixture. Judge Sven Erik Holmes of United States District Court decided on Tuesday to leave in force a temporary restraining order preventing the law from taking effect, as challenges to it mount from companies including ConocoPhillips and the Williams Companies.


The showdown between several of Oklahoma's largest companies and people who want to carry guns began in March, when rural legislators rushed through measures to prevent companies from infringing on what they viewed as an employee's right to keep a gun close at hand at work.


Critics of the new law say the dispute could be a test case for similar measures being considered in other states. Paul Viollis, the president of Risk Control Strategies, which assesses security threats for companies, estimates there are already about 17 workplace homicides in the United States each week, with firearms involved in a majority of such incidents. "This is one of the most irresponsible pieces of legislation I've ever heard of," Mr. Viollis said. "What happens with this in Oklahoma carries significance for every state in the country."


In fact, an outcry over corporate opposition to the law already appears to have weakened the resolve of at least one company, Whirlpool. The company, which has 1,500 employees at a stove plant in Tulsa, withdrew as lead plaintiff in the case on Tuesday, coincidentally after pro-gun supporters of the law began threatening a boycott of the company's products.


"I'll go back to a rub board before I buy a Whirlpool machine ever again," said Jerry Ellis, a Democrat from Valliant who sponsored the bill.


Whirlpool insists it dropped out of the case for another reason. It says it received assurances from the state attorney general's office that its current workplace-protection policies prohibiting firearms on its property would not be affected by the new law.


Guy Hurst, chief of the litigation section for the attorney general, confirmed on Tuesday that his office did not plan to prosecute companies under the law while the judge's restraining order was in effect.


"We've indicated to the companies involved that we're not in the mode to do anything in terms of enforcement at the time being," he said.


Even with Whirlpool's exit from the case, many Oklahoma companies still oppose the law. ConocoPhillips and Williams, two of the state's largest energy concerns, took over as lead plaintiffs, supported by several manufacturing companies in Tulsa as well as the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


"We're pleased that the restraining order remains in place and that we're able to continue enforcing policies that preserve a safe work environment," said Steven Broussard, a lawyer for ConocoPhillips and Williams. "But we're still worried that this law remains on the books because unfortunately in this day and age bad things happen when guns enter the equation of workplace frustration."


Judge Holmes asked lawyers for both sides on Tuesday to present arguments in the next month on whether violation of the law should be considered a criminal or civil offense, an early method of determining whether the case should remain in his court or be transferred to the state level. Mr. Hurst, the lawyer in the state attorney general's office, said a final decision on the case might take as long as two years.


In the meantime, supporters of the law are celebrating the attention their measure has received even if it did not take effect this month as expected. The law is an amendment to the state's Firearms and Self-Defense Acts. And it came to pass after Weyerhaeuser, a large paper manufacturer, fired several employees after finding firearms in their automobiles in a company parking lot at its cardboard plant in Valliant in southeastern Oklahoma in 2002.


Mr. Ellis, the legislator from Valliant and an employee who worked at Weyerhaeuser for 30 years, said he believed that the company improperly used its safety policies as a way to cut costs by firing employees. He was elected to the Legislature two years ago, around the same time he was retiring from Weyerhaeuser, and said he decided to write the bill with the help of a pro-gun lawyer in Tulsa, Lawrence Johnson.


Weyerhaeuser, for its part, said it had alerted employees two years ago that searches of the company parking lot in Valliant would be conducted with dogs, after it discovered employees with drug problems. The drug-sniffing dogs, also trained to uncover firearms, found guns in the cars of four employees and nine contractors, all of whom were fired, according to Frank Mendizabal, a spokesman for Weyerhaeuser at its headquarters in Federal Way, Wash.

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Interesting. Are you a gang member in NY/NJ, and need a truckload of assault weapons, minimum background check required, then come to Virginia! We supply the whole East Coast with cheap firearms, "no serious questions asked" and forget that pesky background check!


In good old VA, there is now a movement afoot, that emphasizes the right to bear arms openly. Those in the movement, flaunt those rights under VA law, by walking into restaurants and bars with loaded guns strapped to their hips, ala Gunsmoke! :) It totally FREAKS out sane people, unaware of the VA laws, who then call 911 and consequently learn the facts. Lots of writeup, lately, on this phenomenon in the Washington Post.


Will VA win the Civil War, eventually, using economics ala Japan after WWII? :o All the gangs and criminals from NYC/NJ come here to buy assault weapons, cheap! Add to that all the mobsters coming to VA to buy cigarettes by the truckload! NC and it's sister border state, VA, are #1 and #2, respectively for the cheapest cigarettes in the U.S.A.! If our cheap guns don't kill you Yankees, then our cheap cigarettes at $60 profit per carton will! :-(

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