NRA, Oil Company Clash Over Guns

Times Staff Writer

Butting heads with a corporate community it often is aligned with, the National Rifle Assn. on Monday called for a boycott of companies that did not allow workers to keep firearms in the cars they park at work.

The boycott will focus most immediately, NRA officials said, on ConocoPhillips. The Houston-based oil and energy giant has sued to block an Oklahoma law that gives residents the right to keep firearms in cars outside their workplaces.

The campaign was to be announced at a town hall-style meeting Monday night by Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president.


In a statement, LaPierre said the NRA would urge gun enthusiasts to boycott ConocoPhillips products, ask retailers to push the parent company to change its policy, and erect billboards targeting the company’s Conoco and Phillips 66 gas stations.

The billboards, LaPierre said, will read: “ConocoPhillips is no friend of the 2nd Amendment.”

“Across the country, we’re going to make ConocoPhillips the example of what happens when a corporation takes away your ... rights,” LaPierre said in his statement. “If you are a corporation that’s anti-gun, anti-gun owner or anti-2nd Amendment, we will spare no effort or expense to work against you, to protect the rights of your law-abiding employees.”

The NRA hopes to persuade other state legislatures to approve laws similar to Oklahoma’s.

In a statement, ConocoPhillips said Monday that it supported its workers’ 2nd Amendment rights.

“Our primary concern is the safety of all our employees,” the company said. “We are simply trying to provide a safe and secure working environment ... by keeping guns out of our facilities, including our company parking lots.”

Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, said companies that were fighting to keep guns out of employee parking lots were neither trying to overturn the 2nd Amendment nor taking part in a “sneaky conspiracy to take away everyone’s guns.”

“Americans should be alarmed that the National Rifle Assn.’s agenda is to get as many [guns] as possible into as many places as possible -- including the kinds of places that we’ve all got to agree are better off without a lot of firearms,” Hamm said.

LaPierre was scheduled to announce the NRA’s boycott effort in Idabel, Okla., a small town in the southeast corner of the state. Twelve workers at a nearby Weyerhaeuser paper mill were fired in 2002 after they were found to have locked firearms in cars parked outside the plant.

After the incident, the Oklahoma Legislature approved a measure to prohibit companies from restricting workers’ ability to carry legal firearms in their cars.

A series of companies sued to block the law, which remained tied up in court.

Gun-control advocates said that weapons left in cars in employee parking lots had been used in a number of workplace incidents -- including one in Mississippi in 2003, when a factory worker killed five colleagues before committing suicide.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the threat of a boycott already had forced several companies to abandon the suit seeking to block the Oklahoma law from taking effect. Whirlpool Corp. initially backed the lawsuit but dropped out late last year because it “got the message,” he said.

But Whirlpool spokesman Steve Duthie said Monday from the company’s Benton Harbor, Mich., headquarters that pressure from the NRA had nothing to do with the decision to drop out of the lawsuit.

He said the company had decided that the law would not impair Whirlpool’s efforts to promote workplace safety.