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Jindal signs bill governing guns in the workplace
The Associated Press • July 5, 2008

BATON ROUGE — Over the objections of five powerful trade associations, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill that gives employees more freedom to take guns to work.

The proposal, backed by the National Rifle Association, gives an employee the right to keep a legally owned firearm locked in a car in a parking lot at the workplace, with some exceptions.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, said the legislation backs employees who are fired for unwittingly carrying a firearm in their personal vehicle because they went hunting before or after work.

The legislation posed a dilemma for Jindal and many conservative lawmakers. During the recent legislative session, the NRA backed the bill but the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry opposed it.

"Sometimes you have to pick among friends. It's not a pleasant thing to do," said Dan Borne, president of two of the associations opposing the bill.

The bill signed Wednesday and takes effect Aug. 15, according to the Legislature's Web site. A message was left with Jindal's press secretary Friday seeking comment.

The Louisiana Chemical Association, the Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance, Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., and the Louisiana Pulp and Paper and Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas associations had urged Jindal to veto the bill, according to a story in Friday's editions of The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge.

The trade associations, representing many of the state's largest employers, said the bill would interfere with employers' right to decide whether to allow firearms on their property.

"We've given the governor good solid reasons to veto this bill," Borne told the newspaper Thursday. He is president of the Louisiana Chemical Association, which represents 65 chemical corporations, and the Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance, which represents about 600 companies that supply and service the chemical plants.

Borne and others writing letters of opposition mentioned the incident last week at a Dixon, Ky., plastics plant in which 25-year-old Wesley N. Higdon killed five co-workers and himself.

"We think the recent shooting rampage at a Kentucky plastics plant highlights the safety concerns of our members," Chris John, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, wrote in a letter dated June 26 and made public Thursday.

The legislation would not apply to places where state or federal law prohibits gun possession, or to cars owned or leased by the employer and driven by the employee. It also would not apply to cars on parking lots where access to the property is restricted by a fence, security station, signs or other means — if the employer provides an unrestricted parking area nearby or provides on-site facilities for the temporary storage of unloaded guns.

Under the bill, employers could adopt policies requiring guns in cars on their parking lots be stored in secured vehicles, hidden from plain site and locked in cases within the vehicles.
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