Effective August 15, 2008, employers will no longer be able to prevent employees from carrying firearms onto employer property if those firearms are in locked, privately-owned vehicles.  The change is the result of Senate Bill 51, which was sponsored by Sen. Joe McPherson and signed into law as Act No. 684 by Governor Bobby Jindal on July 2nd of this year.  Under the new law, people who lawfully possess firearms cannot be prevented from carrying them onto any designated parking area, including garages and parking lots, as long as the firearm is stored in a locked, privately owned vehicle. 

            As written, all property owners are subject to the Act’s provisions, including employers who wish to prevent employees from carrying firearms onto employer property.  Property where firearms are already prohibited under state or federal law is exempt, as are most employer-owned vehicles which are used by employees for business purposes.  In addition, employers are allowed to prevent firearms from being carried in areas where access is restricted by such means as a fence or signage, as long as the employer provides temporary firearm storage facilities or an additional parking area that is unrestricted.    

            Although the Act provides property owners, tenants, employers and business entities with immunity from civil liability for any damages arising out of incidents involving firearms transported or stored on their property pursuant to the Act, concerns exist, particularly among the state’s industrial sector.  The Louisiana Chemical Association (LCA) and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) both opposed the bill, citing safety and liability concerns.

            As businesses begin to sort through compliance issues and assess their firearm policies, questions abound.  Companies are looking at constitutional and preemption issues, as well as similar laws that have been passed in states like Oklahoma and Florida, for answers.