Thursday, March 16, 2006

The NRA and "Forced Entry" Laws

I was cruising the Internets the other evening, doing some research, when I ran across this report on the website for The Brady Center for the Prevention of Handgun Violence. I figured with a title like Forced Entry: The National Rifle Association’s Campaign To Force Businesses To Accept Guns At Work, I could probably guess the gist of the report.

I was wrong.

The report is much more sobering than the title indicates.

The report details the (unfortunately successful) effort by the NRA – the organization that supports hunting squirrels with a 50-caliber machine gun and arming Vice Presidents – to push a bill through the Oklahoma state legislature that makes it a crime – a crime, with prison and fines and everything – for:

[…] anyone—“person, property owner, tenant, employer, or business entity”—to bar any person, except a convicted felon, from bringing a gun onto any property in Oklahoma that is “set aside for any motor vehicle.” [Citations omitted]

As the legal beagles say, let’s examine the “elements” of this law:

  • person, property owner, tenant, employer, or business entity: this pretty much covers anyone who might be in control of any real estate

  • to bar any person, except a convicted felon: this would mean that disgruntled ex-employees, abusive spouses, angry customers or neighbors, whackos, weirdos, drunks, junkies, psychopaths, etc., as long as they have not been convicted of a felony

  • from bringing a gun onto any property: this means your home, store, business, playground, church, bar, hospital, nuclear plant, courthouse, prison (!), day care center, etc.

  • set aside for any motor vehicle: basically, anyplace with a driveway or parking lot… or anywhere an ATV, snowmobile, or off-road vehicle could get to.


In addition to making violators subject to criminal penalties, the NRA-backed forced-entry statute provides individuals with a right of action to sue persons,
property owners, tenants, employers or businesses to force them to accept guns into any place set aside for motor vehicles and collect court costs and attorneys fees if they prevail. [Citations omitted]

In other words, if you tell some yahoo he can’t bring his gun onto your private property, YOU go to jail, YOU get fined, YOU get sued, YOU have to pay HIS legal expenses.

Notice there is no requirement that the person have a Carry Concealed Weapons (CCW) permit. The only restriction is that he not be a convicted felon.

Notice, also, there is no restriction on the number or type(s) of guns the yahoo can bring onto your private property: assault weapons, sniper rifles, heavy machine guns… anything the mope wants to bring with him.

The only requirement is that the weapon(s) be locked in a motor vehicle.

The Brady Center refers to this travesty as a “Forced Entry” law.

The NRA “rationalizes” this by saying people would be better able to protect themselves if they had ready access to firearms. I fail to see how having a .45 locked outside in your car is going to protect you from some whacko roaming around inside with a 12-guage.

Obviously, the NRA isn’t content with “just” having guns in the parking areas. No, this is just the first step toward their eventual goal: extending the “forced entry” law(s) to allow guns inside all buildings.

Of course, a number of companies – including ConocoPhillips and Securitas Security Services (which provides armed security guards) – and other organizations filed suit to block the law. Some of the organizations are ASIS International (the American Society for Industrial Security) and the Society of Human Resource Management. In retaliation, the NRA has launched a boycott of these companies and organizations.

Aside from the obvious safety and security concerns, there are many other factors to be taken into consideration.

  • The Oklahoma law may violate the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution: “No person shall […] be deprived of life, limb, or property, without due process of law[…]”. A reasonable argument could be made that the law deprives the property owner of his ownership rights, by requiring the owner to admit persons he would otherwise bar from his premises.

  • The Fourteenth Amendment’s “due process” clauses may also be violated: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In effect, the property owner is deprived of equal protection of the law.

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) obligates “each employer [to] furnish to each of his employees … a place of employment which [is] free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” Certainly getting shot would qualify as “serious physical harm”.

  • Employers have a generally-recognized right to set basic work rules and regulations. The Oklahoma law appears to be in conflict with this right.

These “forced entry” laws put employers in the untenable position of having to provide a safe workplace, while being legally banned from prohibiting guns in the workplace.

It’s no secret that incidents of workplace violence are increasing. Logic would dictate that workplace homicides – the vast majority of which are committed with guns – could be reduced by widening the prohibition of guns in the workplace and by tightening the requirements for buying and carrying them.

But the nutcases at the NRA don’t agree. They want every drunk, mouth-breathin’, Bible-thumpin’, hooker-humpin’, sister-marryin’, rifle-rack-in-the-pickmup neocon wingnut to carry his piece wherever he goes.

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