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News & Editorials

3 AOL Staff fired for having firearms in private vehicles

A message from one of those three gun owners, Luke Hansen

Hello there, 

In advance, I thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Here is the story I have to tell. It's a story that I, that we 3 involved, feel that all gun owners need to hear.

My name is Luke Hansen. I live in Clinton, Utah. I've been married for 4 and a half years, and am expecting my first baby (girl) in February. My two friends are Jason Melling, and Paul Carlson. Jason has been married for about 2 years and has just bought a house. Paul is not married. Paul and I are both Utah state Concealed Weapons Permit holders (CCW). 

The three of us worked for America Online (AOL) in Ogden, Utah. We've worked there for varying numbers of years. Paul for 2, Jason for about 3, and myself for over 4 years. All 3 of us were good employees, great reviews, good stats, and not "Problem" employees. 

On September 14th, Jason, Paul and I met after work in the AOL parking lot to go shooting. This parking lot is open to the public, and denoted as AOL's only by white stripes for the stalls. Jason took his .30-06 in a case, and his S&W 9 mm (again, in a case) from his car, walked 10-15 feet and placed them in my truck. Paul took his .45 long colt in a holster, and his KBI (7.62x39) not in a case, and walked 5-10 feet and placed them in my truck as well. I waited patiently, never once touching the guns. We left the AOL parking lot to go shooting at the gun range just outside of Eden, Utah. 

The following Monday, the three of us were fired for violation of company policy - Weapons on premises. AOL allows no weapons anywhere that they deem their property. Inside the building, or anywhere in the parking lot that they lease. If you're an AOL employee in that lot anywhere with a gun, you will be terminated. If you are a non AOL employee, or a customer of one of the other stores in that mall, you are fine. AOL's no weapons note inside the building states that they are classified as a "Secure Facility" under state law. Well, Utah State law says that Secure Facilities are only Airport Terminals, Court Houses, Olympic Venues, jails, federal buildings and Mental institutions (UCA 76-10-523.5). 

AOL's illegal company policies do more than just restrict what happens on their leased property. It restricts what their gun owning employees do to and from work. As well as their CCW/Employees do to and from work.

By not allowing them in their employees cars (Again, legal under state law in the constitution: Article 1 Sec. 6, and UCA 76-10-501.i). Their policy restricts their employees to carry a gun in their car to go hunting after work, or to go to the gunsmith on lunch. It restricts CCW holders from lawfully carrying their gun to and from work. 

AOL has violated several different express Utah Public Policies, Utah's State Constitution, and the Second Amendment to the US Constitution by firing us 3. 

The 3 of us have began to take legal action against AOL for wrongful termination. We have enlisted the help of J. Vilos, Attorney, and author of "Utah Gun Law: Good, Bad and Ugly." If AOL is allowed to continue with illegal company policies like this, then ALL companies in Utah can adopt similar policies. Your employer can whittle away at your gun rights, and get away with it. The 3 of us have chosen to take a stand, because this is something that we feel very deeply about. We believe that this is truly an issue that affects ALL Utah gun owners and ALL Utah CCW carriers. These aren't just our rights that were violated, they are your rights too. 

We are looking for any help that can be offered by any Utah gun owners who feel as strongly about their gun rights as we do. Any help that you can give, be it monetary, some resources that we may have overlooked, knowledge that we may not have that may aid us, personal contacts you feel we should get in touch with, or even a "Good luck, I stand behind you" would be greatly appreciated. 

Again, I thank you for taking the time to read this. ~ Luke Hansen

You can reach me at: or at (801) 776-0081 Note: I just spoke with Luke tonight (Sunday, Oct 29, 9:30pm) and verified this event. It's real, it happened. Luke and his friends filed a lawsuit against AOL last week, and some assistance is requested from anyone who chooses to support the case. We've offered Luke free internet access so he can step back from AOL to insure his privacy and to support him during this transition. We have extended this offer to one of the other two plaintiffs in the case who is still using AOL for internet access, as well.  Our internet access reaches Ogden just fine, and who better to offer our internet access to than gun owners who just got shafted by AOL?  ~~ Angel Shamaya, Director,

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