Jason Smith is in a tough spot. He works for a company he has
been asked to boycott.
In an effort to keep weapons out of the workplace, his employer,
ConocoPhillips, is challenging state law and has forbidden workers
to leave guns in their cars in company parking lots. Now, the
National Rifle Association (NRA) is encouraging gun owners to stop
buying ConocoPhillips gasoline.
The boycott is the latest skirmish in an expanding battle over
gun control. Now that many states allow citizens to carry concealed
weapons, the NRA is pushing to eliminate remaining restrictions on
where those guns can be taken. Gun-control groups - and some
employers - are fighting back. The outcome could decide whether more
states expand the rights of licensed owners to carry their guns
where they want, despite recent evidence that workplace gun bans do
This issue is simmering in states across the country, says
Stephen Halbrook, a Virginia lawyer who handles many Second
Amendment cases. "But it is in brightest relief in Oklahoma."
That's because Oklahoma is one of only two states with statutes
that specifically prohibit employers from banning weapons on their
own property. (Kentucky is the other state.) ConocoPhillips and
several other employers are challenging the 2003 Oklahoma law in
"ConocoPhillips supports the Second Amendment and respects the
rights of law abiding citizens to own guns," the Houston-based oil
company says in a written statement. "Our primary concern is the
safety of all our employees. We are simply trying to provide a safe
and secure working environment for our employees by keeping guns out
of our facilities, including our company parking lots."
But gun-control opponents see the issue in constitutional terms.
"This case clearly goes to the very core of the freedom of
Americans to own and travel with firearms in this country," says
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA. If companies
successfully block the Oklahoma law, "it could be a blueprint for
thousands of corporations across this country to declare their
parking lots anti-Second Amendment zones, which could in effect gut
'carry' laws in 38 states and restrict hunters on every hunting
trip." Conceivably, gun owners would have nowhere to get a sandwich
or fill up with gas, he adds.
The NRA will soon have billboards up in 10 to 15 states where
ConocoPhillips has major interests, he says. The billboards will
read: "ConocoPhillips is No Friend of the Second Amendment."
The campaign is part of a larger NRA push to expand the rights of
gun owners to carry their firearms wherever they want, warns Peter
Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control
group. He points to two bills backed by the NRA this past
* In April, Arizona lawmakers passed a bill to allow concealed
handguns in bars. Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed the bill, angering
the NRA but pleasing many owners of restaurants and bars in that
* That same month, Florida lawmakers passed a bill significantly
broadening the circumstances under which a person is allowed to
shoot another in self defense. …