Sooner State Firms Battle Gun Law

December 2, 2004 ( - Two large companies doing business in Oklahoma are battling in federal court to block a new state law allowing workers parking in company parking lots to store guns in their cars.

>The controversial law bars any company policy “that has the effect of prohibiting any person, except a convicted felon, from transporting and storing firearms in a locked vehicle on any property set aside for any vehicle,” according to The National Law Journal. The provision is an amendment to Oklahoma’s Self-Defense Act of 1995.

>Opponents have already successfully blocked the law from taking effect November 1 through a temporary restraining order. Also US Chief District Judge Sven Erik Holmes recently told the parties that he would ask Oklahoma’s Court of Criminal Appeals to decide if statute is criminal or civil. If the court deems it a civil statute, state officials would likely be more successful with their arguments that they can’t be sued in federal court under sovereign immunity laws and the matter would be moved to state court.

>In their lawsuit attacking the measure, plaintiffs ConocoPhillips and the Williams Cos. claimed that it violates employers’ property rights and due process rights, is unconstitutionally vague and is inconsistent with federal laws regulating firearms. The plaintiffs bar firearms from their properties. The plaintiffs argue that the law makes it all the harder for them to guarantee workplace safety by banning weapons.

>The bill’s sponsor, Oklahoma Representative Jerry Ellis, who regularly carries guns in his car, said he wanted to protect “our constitutional right to transport and store a firearm in a locked vehicle.”