Oklahoma gun bill advances in Legislature - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Oklahoma gun bill advances in Legislature

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Just a few days into the Oklahoma legislative session, the House Public Safety Committee has passed a bill that would permit constitutional carry of guns in Oklahoma. The vote was 9-2.

Lt. Scott Hampton of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said letting Oklahomans carry guns without requiring licensing or training shouldn't increase danger to civilians.

"There will be some hurdles, but -- by and large -- our citizens do the right thing for the most part," he said. "Our criminals do not obey laws as it is, and we would just have to cross that bridge when we get there."

House Bill 2597 would let most Oklahomans carry a firearm without a license.  At least 14 states have approved some version of permitless carry, most recently South Dakota, according to the National Rifle Association.

"I feel like it's a good thing, but there should be some kind of training involved," Oklahoma resident Marc Schaefer said.

Under the proposed legislation, the carrier of a firearm must be at least 21 (or 18 years old if a member or veteran of the armed forces). Persons convicted of domestic abuse or illegal drug use or possession would be prohibited from carrying firearms.

Some Oklahomans like Kevin Davis say it's their right to have a gun, with or without a license.

"It has nothing to do with constitutional, it's the Bill of Rights," Davis said. "The Bill of Rights are not given by the government; it's not a deal they would just acknowledge in the fact that we already had that right as human beings."

Lt. Hampton said officials will enforce whatever laws are passed by the legislature.

"People go through the proper protocols on however this law's final version is put in place, then we'll work with it," he said.

A similar bill was vetoed last year by Gov. Mary Fallin. But Kevin Stitt, who took over for Fallin last month, said last week he would sign a constitutional carry measure.

"Conceptually, absolutely I'm going to sign it," Stitt told reporters. "We are going to be a state that protects the 2nd Amendment."

Christine Jackson of the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action said she hopes Stitt will consider that most Oklahomans support background checks and training for those carrying in public.

"It's disheartening that we have to fight against this again," said Jackson, who became involved in the gun safety movement after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 students, six staff members, the shooter's mother and shooter himself dead in Connecticut. "The majority of Oklahomans don't want this legislation."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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