As the Oklahoma legislature returns for the start of the 2022 legislative session today, lawmakers will once again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills.
2021 was marked by staggering levels of gun violence fueled by the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” agenda. Across the nation, we saw historic levels of gunfire on school grounds and record homicide numbers in some cities. Shootings across the states underscored the deadly effects of America’s lax gun legislation, and the high profile trials of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers and Kyle Rittenhouse highlighted the dangers of open carry and ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Shoot First’ laws. As the stress and rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic extend into the new year, meaningful action on gun safety remains more critical than ever.
Oklahoma has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, scoring only 7.5 out of 100 for gun law strength while maintaining one of the highest gun violence rates in the country.
This year, lawmakers should protect Oklahomans by rejecting dangerous legislation that would weaken our gun laws and, instead, support gun safety bills that would reduce gun deaths and save lives, starting with keeping guns off campuses, rejecting expansion of “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” laws, and fighting expansion of punitive preemption laws.
What to know about guns on campuses in Oklahoma:
- Guns on campus legislation would force public colleges to allow anyone with a permit – students and faculty alike – to carry concealed, loaded handguns on campus.
- The majority of professors, students, and parents agree – guns have no place on college campuses, and state legislators shouldn’t make colleges less safe by forcing them to allow concealed handguns in dorms, classrooms, and other sensitive areas.
- Allowing guns on campus could also increase the risk of gun suicide for students. The firearm suicide rate for children and teens has increased by 53 percent in the past decade – and access to firearms increases the risk of suicide by three times.
What to know about punitive preemption in Oklahoma:
- Firearm preemption laws prohibit local governments from adopting reasonable gun laws and punish local officials and governments for passing lifesaving gun safety ordinances.
- Preemption prevents local mayors and public officials most familiar with local criminal activity from passing common-sense public safety measures designed to keep their communities safe.
- Proposed bills would expand Oklahoma’s existing preemption law to include firearm components and ammunition, and to allow a person to collect legal expenses even if a local government changes its ordinance or policy before a final determination is made by a court.
What to know about “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” laws in Oklahoma:
- “Shoot First” laws threaten public safety by encouraging armed vigilantism, allowing people to shoot first and ask questions later, even in instances when they could safely remove themselves from the situation.
- Oklahoma already has a dangerous “Shoot First” law, but current proposals would expand that law, further emboldening a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality in Oklahoma.
- Nationally, these laws are associated with more than 150 additional gun deaths every month. After Florida’s law was enacted in 2005, studies show that homicide rates increased between 24 and 45%.
- In ‘Shoot First’ states, homicides in which white shooters kill Black victims are deemed justifiable five times more frequently than when the situation is reversed.
What to know about gun violence in Oklahoma:
- In Oklahoma, on average, 735 people are shot and killed with a gun every year.
- An average of 233 people in Oklahoma die by gun homicide every year; Oklahoma has the sixteenth highest rate of gun homicide in the United States.
- Black people in Oklahoma are more than six times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people.
- Oklahoma has the 7th-highest rate of gun suicides in the US.
- Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in Oklahoma. In an average year, 64 children and teens die by gun in the state.
- Gun violence costs Oklahoma $4.5 billion each year, of which $163.0 million is paid by taxpayers.
Statistics about gun violence in Oklahoma are available here, and Everytown’s interactive gun law platform — which shows the direct correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of gun deaths — is available here.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Oklahoma Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.