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American Bar Association challenges NRA "Bring Your Gun to Work" campaign

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Message Martha Rosenberg
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The NRA's enemies list just keeps getting bigger:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Kerry, Kennedy, Clinton and Feinstein, New York City Mayor Bloomberg, the entire Democratic Party, the New Orleans Police Department, the United Nations, Weyerhauser, ConocoPhillips, Katie Couric, Rosie O'Donnell, George Soros, Michael Moore, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, animal activists, illegal aliens pant pant and now the American Bar Association.

The nation's largest lawyers group with 413,000 members is opposing the NRA's "bring your gun to work" campaign which seeks to strip employers of the right to bar workers from leaving guns in their cars while on the job.

With over 800 people killed a year at work in the US, the ABA no doubt thinks supporting an employer's right "to exclude from the workplace and other private property, persons in possession of firearms or other weapons" is a no brainer.

But not so to the NRA.

Not only is there the issue of private property--your vehicle is "an extension of your home," according to Marion Hammer, an NRA lobbyist in Florida where the controversial no retreat law was passed a few years ago--there's safety.

"When you get off work at 12 o'clock or 1 o'clock and you're driving home you have the right to protect yourself if you're accosted on the highway," says Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president.

(Will LaPierre say "if you're accosted at work" once the bans succeed? Pretending the NRA had nothing to do with arming the workplace--hey, it's the bad guys--just like it does with the nation?)

And then there's the inconvenience of No Firearm Zones.

"People could drive on their highways with the guns, but they couldn't stop anywhere," laments LaPierre. "In effect, you're nullifying the right to carry."

That's the point home rule communities would say.

The "bring your gun to work" debate dates back to 2002 when eight employees at a Weyerhauser paper mill in Valliant, OK were fired for having guns in their vehicles on a company parking lot.

While the employees' suits went nowhere, public outcry led Oklahoma lawmakers to pass a law prohibiting property owners and employers from barring anyone except felons from having firearms in locked vehicles in parking lots on their property.

But there was a wrinkle.

ConocoPhillips, a major Oklahoma employer with 3,000 workers, didn't drink the Kool-Aid.

It looked at two workplace shootings in Mississippi just months after the Weyerhauser incident--seven dead and eight injured--and said you want us to legalize WHAT?, filing a federal lawsuit to block the Oklahoma law.

It's still in the courts.

"ConocoPhillips went to federal court to attack your freedom," thundered LaPierre to his constituents. "We're going to make ConocoPhillips the example of what happens when a corporation takes away your Second Amendment rights. If you are a corporation that's anti-gun, anti-gun owner, or anti-Second Amendment, we will spare no effort or expense to work against you, to protect the rights of your law-abiding employees."

But the boycott belly flopped and the only example shown was the danger of hollow saber rattling or telling a man to go to hell without the authority to send him there, as LBJ used to say.

Meanwhile ConocoPhillips said it respected "the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns," and was just trying "to provide a safe and secure working environment for our employees."

And there were more wrinkles.

A version of the Oklahoma law in Florida which
banned workplaces including churches and hospitals from prohibiting firearms--including machine guns!--was too extreme even for the gun friendly state. (Imagine a doctor with bad news for a patient.)

"We're not against the Second Amendment, but guns are inappropriate in our workplaces and workplaces include parking lots. We control those," said Randy Miller, a lobbyist for the Florida Retail Federation which represents 12,000 businesses in the state.

Nor did it fly with the Blues who no doubt know something about the costs of treating gun shot wounds.

"Possession of firearms in the workplace or on company property is strictly prohibited," said Bruce Middlebrooks of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, which has 7,500 employees in the Jacksonville area.

Not only would the law present logistical problems said critics--metal detectors; employee mental health screenings--who would walk a fired employee to his car? ("I did it last time!"/"but he was a welterweight!")

In challenging "bring your gun to work" laws, the American Bar Association speaks for many who have had enough of the NRA's emo.

Its King Baby crying about the right to own machine guns, buy more than a weapon a month, bring weapons into home rule communities and, now, into the workplace when people have Real Problems.

And its fear mongering about armed and dangerous men who are often the very ones it's armed--in the home and workplace.
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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by (more...)

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