Court Rejects "Forced Entry" Of Guns At Work

What do you call a law that forces employers to accept guns on their property, when doing so makes it impossible to provide a safe workplace under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)?

Ridiculous?

What do you call a law that could force guns onto the private property of a homeowner who doesn't want them?

Outrageous?

In Oklahoma, they call it "unenforceable."

Last Thursday, October 4, Judge Terence Kern of the Federal District Court in Tulsa, Oklahoma, issued a 93-page injunction [pdf document] that rejected the gun lobby's fiercest effort yet to force guns into America's workplaces. Notably, the court's opinion cited the Brady Center report on this critical subject - Forced Entry: The National Rifle Association's Campaign To Force Businesses To Accept Guns At Work - no fewer than five times.

Under the "forced entry" statutes that Judge Kern rejected (Okla. Stat. §§21-1289.7 and 1290.22(B)), someone who kept a gun in their car would have the right to take their weapon almost anywhere there was a parking lot - courthouses, mental health facilities, day care centers, and almost every private business. Even some homeowners in Oklahoma may not have been able to prevent a guest from driving onto their property with a firearm in his or her automobile. (See pp. 61-62 of the opinion [pdf document].)

Does that make sense to you? Should a guest be able to tell you what you can do on the property that you bought and paid for? Somehow it does to the NRA. Yet to most Americans [see table 8.2] with a more traditional understanding of private property, the Oklahoma law was completely irrational. That helps explain why the NRA's attempts to pass similar laws have failed in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and nine other states over the last two years.

As it happens, however, Judge Kern didn't reject the Oklahoma "forced entry" law because it contradicted a basic understanding of private property. Instead, Judge Kern found it impossible for an Oklahoma employer to simultaneously follow the state's bizarre "forced entry" gun law and fulfill its general duty under OSHA "to protect [ ] employees from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious bodily injury." The court rightly concluded that an employer's general duty "extends to the hazard of gun-related workplace violence" and that such violence "is a 'hazard' that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury to employees."

The evidence is clearly on the court's side. And it's just common sense.

Due to the court's decision, working families in Oklahoma can rest easier knowing that now business owners have control over their property again, and that they can punch their time-clocks without worrying about how many of their co-workers have a semi-automatic firearm out in the parking lot because the law said it was OK.

It's not OK, and now they have the right to say so.

(Note to readers: This entry, along with past entries, has been co-posted on bradycampaign.org/blog and the Huffington Post.)