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Employers Must Allow Guns in Locked Vehicles

(CN) - Oklahoma employers can't stop employees from storing guns in their locked vehicles in company parking lots, the 10th Circuit ruled. A three-judge panel reinstated laws that hold employers criminally liable for banning the storage of guns in locked cars, saying the amendments do not "materially impede or thwart" federal law.

After several employees had been fired for keeping guns in their locked vehicles, the state Legislature amended its gun laws in 2004 to hold employers criminally liable for prohibiting guns in vehicles.

A group of businesses challenged the amendments as too vague and an unconstitutional taking of company property. They also argued that the amendments violated their due process rights and were pre-empted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

A federal judge granted their motion for a temporary restraining order and ordered extensive briefing on the issue of pre-emption. The judge then rejected the plaintiffs' constitutional claims, but determined that the laws were pre-empted by federal law and permanently enjoined their enforcement.

On appeal, the state argued against "conflict pre-emption," saying the amendments didn't impede or block any federal laws or policies.

The federal appeals court in Denver sided with the state, saying the OSHA regulates work-related hazards, not workplace violence.

"OSHA has not indicated in any way that employers should prohibit firearms from company parking lots," Judge Baldock wrote.

The panel reversed the injunction and reinstated the amendments.

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