In Oklahoma, Debate Grows over Allowing Guns in Employee Parking Lots

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A lawmaker wants to address concerns about a new state law that allows guns to be kept in workers' locked vehicles.

State Rep. Greg Piatt, R-Ardmore, said Wednesday he's drafting a measure that would eliminate legal liability for businesses and employees should a gun be used or stolen at a work site.

``The liability issue needs to be addressed, but otherwise I think it's a good law,'' he said. ``We must protect the Second Amendment rights of workers, but we also need to protect businesses.''

Williams Cos. and ConocoPhillips are challenging the new law, which was supposed to take effect Nov. 1. A judge put its implementation on hold with a temporary restraining order.

Piatt's proposed legislation won't stop the lawsuit, Williams spokesman Kelly Swan said.

``It sounds like they're headed in the right direction, but we're still concerned about having control over what takes place on our property and the overall safety of our employees,'' Swan said Wednesday.

ConocoPhillips officials were unavailable for comment.

Piatt said a disgruntled employee will take a gun to work whether rules against it exist or not. Allowing the law to take effect will make sure that law-abiding employees have access to weapons in emergencies, he said.

In 2002, Weyerhaeuser Co. fired 12 workers at its Valliant paper mill after guns were discovered in their vehicles during a drug search.

Rep. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, got a law passed that bars employers from banning weapons in locked vehicles.

Whirlpool Corp. sued in October and was joined by ConocoPhillips and Williams. Whirlpool has since withdrawn.

A state appeals court has been asked to decide whether the law is criminal or civil before the federal lawsuit proceeds.

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