ASIS International

Court Decision Allows Employers to Ban Firearms from Parking Lots

Alexandria, Va. (October 2007) – A federal court in Oklahoma has ruled that employers shall have the right to prohibit firearms from privately owned vehicles on their premises. In an early October decision, Judge Terrence Kern of the U.S. District Court in Tulsa effectively blocked an Oklahoma state law passed in 2004 that would have granted citizens the right to transport and store firearms in their locked vehicles on private property, even when a private property owner would like to prevent them from doing so.

In a 93-page opinion, Judge Kern determined the Oklahoma statutes "conflict with and are pre-empted by federal the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to abate hazards in their workplaces that could lead to death or serious bodily harm, and which encourages employers to prevent gun-related workplace injuries. The amendments criminally prohibit an effective method of reducing gun-related workplace injuries and cannot coexist with federal obligations and objectives."

The ruling came as the result of a suit brought against Oklahoma's governor and attorney general, the defendants in the case, by several corporations acting as plaintiffs and seeking to prevent state officials from enforcing what had become popularly known as the "bring your guns to work law."

Several groups, including ASIS International, filed amicus briefs in support of the plaintiffs. ASIS, the largest and most prominent association of security professionals, filed its brief in the belief that property owners and managers— in this case, corporations and their security directors—ought to have the right to have policies prohibiting certain items from their premises.

ASIS has been involved in efforts to prevent passage of similar laws in other states. So far, such laws have been defeated in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

Jack Lichtenstein, ASIS's Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, cautions that the fight is far from over in these or other states. "There are some committed gun activists across the country who go as far as to believe that their right to carry firearms trumps the right of any property owner to prohibit firearms on their premises. They are politically powerful, they want 'forced entry' of firearms to be the law of the land, and they will continue to work to have these laws passed wherever they can."

Steve D. Chupa, CPP, President of ASIS International, adds: "The work of ASIS on this issue is not aimed at prohibiting firearms, but at giving property owners the right to decide what they will accept on their property and whether they may have policies banning guns on their premises."

The court decision is considered significant because it specifically empowers, but does not obligate, employers to adopt and enforce policies that prohibit guns in all areas of the workplace.