Gun Lobby Endangers Workers in its Push to Force Businesses to Allow Guns in the Workplace, Says Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

August 02, 2005

The following was released today by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

Your co-worker is acting strangely again, and the NRA wants him to have his gun close by.

It was only a matter of time. The National Rifle Association thinks every employer in America should be required by law to allow workers to bring guns into the workplace, and the group's leader announced this week it will work to get state laws passed to ensure it. It doesn't matter if there are day care centers in the office, or hazardous materials: Workers, the group says, should have a Constitutional right to be armed. And they've added a boycott campaign of one business that has argued in court in the state of Oklahoma that it should have the right to ban firearms from the workplace.

"Is there no end to this?" asked Michael D. Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "In state after state, the NRA has lobbied for the right to bring hidden, loaded handguns into churches, schools and bars -- and now even chemical plants. Is there any place in America where we shouldn't allow firearms?"

Specifically, the NRA has targeted petroleum company ConocoPhillips. A press release says the NRA will "spare no effort or expense ... Across the country, we're going to make ConocoPhillips the example of what happens when a corporation takes away your Second Amendment rights," NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said.

Is a company that prohibits guns in the workplace anti-gun? That's ridiculous. Companies bar guns from the workplace to protect the safety of workers and customers, to keep control over the security of their premises, and to prohibit behavior by potentially dangerous employees who threaten or intimidate other employees.

"America has seen terrible, deadly incidents arise when disturbed individuals bring guns into the office," Barnes said. "It is simply common sense that when a manager is faced with a situation where a troubled individual is showing the warning signs of danger, that manager should have the right, on private property, to make it clear that the firearms should be left home. The NRA says this is about individual rights, and we agree: It's about the individual rights of the majority of the individuals at work to have some level of assurance that they won't be shot."

Summaries of a few of the many incidents of workplace violence involving firearms follow.

-- At a Lockheed Martin assembly plant in Meridian, Miss. on July 9, 2003, "a white factory worker described as a menacing racist went on a murderous rampage, shooting four blacks and one white dead before killing himself. Dozens of employees at the aircraft parts plant frantically ran for cover after the gunman, dressed in a black T-shirt and camouflage pants, opened fire with a shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle during a morning break." Nine others were injured, including one critically, in the United States' deadliest workplace shooting in 2 1/2 years. "Authorities identified the shooter as Doug Williams, a man some employees described as a 'racist' who didn't like blacks. 'When I first heard about it, he was the first thing that came to my mind,' said Jim Payton, a retired plant employee who worked with Williams for about a year. He said Williams had talked about wanting to kill people. 'I'm capable of doing it,' Payton quoted Williams as saying." (Quoted material from the Associated Press.)

-- In Kansas City in July of last year, a 21-year-old worker at a meatpacking plant killed five people and wounded two others before killing himself. "Elijah Brown's co-workers always had a hard time making sense of him," MSNBC reported. "He paced, he talked to himself, he got bothered over teasing that wouldn't faze other people ... Police did not offer a motive for Friday's 10-minute rampage, but said there appeared to be nothing random about the killings at the Kansas City, Kan., ConAgra Foods Inc. plant. They said he passed by some co-workers, telling them, 'You haven't done anything to me, so you can go.' 'This person acted with purpose, he knew exactly what he was doing,' Police Chief Ron Miller said."

-- In July 2003, a Jefferson City, Mo., factory worker "was close to being fired for missing work too much before he pulled a gun in the middle of the plant floor and killed three co-workers, authorities said. Jonathon Russell, 25, later committed suicide in a gun battle with police outside the police station, investigators said. Investigators said he may have targeted certain people in the rampage, which followed a shift change at the industrial-radiator factory late Tuesday. Police said Russell had been accumulating work demerits stemming from his absences at Modine Manufacturing Co. and was facing the possible breakup of a romantic relationship. Two co-workers died along the manufacturing line where Russell had worked for two years. A supervisor, shot 50 feet away, died on the way to the hospital. Five other employees were wounded; their conditions ranged from good to critical."