ASSE, ASIS Join Brady Center Against Oklahoma Guns-at-Work Law

The most important safety and security professional associations, the American Society of Safety Engineers and ASIS International, joined the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in an amicus brief filed this week urging the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that a 2004 Oklahoma law prevents employers there from complying with OSHA's General Duty Clause by barring them from implementing gun restrictions on their property. The case, ConocoPhillips, et al. v. C. Brad Henry, Governor, et al., No. 07-5166, has drawn national attention because it pits the National Rifle Association against several big employers in a small, conservative state. The law was passed overwhelmingly by Oklahoma legislators after a Weyerhaeuser pulp mill fired a dozen workers and contractors who had guns in their parked, locked trucks in the company's parking lot, in violation of a company policy.

Whirlpool was the original chief plaintiff in the case, but it withdrew, leaving ConocoPhillips as the chief plaintiff; the NRA called for a nationwide boycott of ConocoPhillips because of this case.

ASSE has 32,000 members and ASIS International has 33,000, according to the brief, which was prepared by two Washington, D.C. lawyers with the OSHA Practice Group of the law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP. The brief points out that OSHA has endorsed weapons-exclusion policies and regulations as ways to reduce workplace violence. Two appendices to the brief are a list of news reports about mass shootings at U.S. businesses since mid-1997 and a breakdown of 2003 workplace shootings. The lower court in this case held that the Oklahoma Forced Entry Laws are invalid because they materially impair the ability of employers in the state to comply with federal law. (Mick Hinton of the Tulsa World's Capitol Bureau in Oklahoma City reported on Wednesday that the state House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee passed, 14-2, a bill to let students age 21 and older carry concealed firearms on campuses if they are licensed to carry a concealed weapon.)

Last August, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2006, it said workplace homicides ranked fourth among all causes, with 516 workers killed by someone else on the job during the year. More than 80 percent of them were shot, BLS said.

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