Permitless carry gun bill sails through Oklahoma committee

Friday, February 8, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A bill vetoed last year by then-Gov. Mary Fallin that would allow Oklahoma residents to carry a gun without any training or a background check appears to be sailing toward the new Republican governor, who has said he'll sign it.

Dubbed "constitutional carry" by its supporters, the measure cleared its first hurdle Thursday when a House committee approved it 9-2. It now advances to the full House. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

At least 14 states have approved some version of permitless carry, most recently South Dakota, according to the NRA. Similar legislation cleared the House and Senate last year, but Fallin vetoed it over concerns about the elimination of training and background checks, and opposition from law enforcement.

But Oklahoma's new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Senate Republican Leader Greg Treat both say they support the concept. "Conceptually, absolutely I'm going to sign it," Stitt told reporters last week. "We are going to be a state that protects the 2nd Amendment."

Stitt said any bill should give businesses the right to ban firearms on their property. The bill approved by the committee on Thursday would allow most Oklahomans 21 and older to carry concealed or unconcealed without a license. Exceptions would include anyone in the country illegally or convicted of certain crimes. Firearms would be prohibited in certain locations, including public buildings, schools, pro sporting events and casinos.

Belinda Barker of Moore wore a 19th Century dress and an empty holster on her hip. She was among dozens of supporters of the bill who packed a hearing room Thursday. She said the concerns about a lack of training are overblown.

"Most people are still going to get training," she said.

Christine Jackson of the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action said Stitt should 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 after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 28 dead. "The majority of Oklahomans don't want this legislation."