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State Legislature Considering Three Bills That Put Oklahomans at Greater Risk of Gun Violence

March 31, 2016

The Oklahoma legislature is considering three dangerous pieces of legislation that would put Oklahomans at greater risk of gun violence:

  • H.J.R. 1009, which would call into question almost every gun law in the state;
  • S.B. 1185, which would allow visitors to Oklahoma to openly carry firearms in the state without so much as a permit or training;
  • H.B. 3098, which would eliminate the state’s requirement that Oklahoma residents have a permit before openly carrying a handgun in public.

H.J.R. 1009 would allow the state constitution to be amended to require courts to evaluate all firearms-related laws, rules and regulations using the most stringent form of judicial analysis, often referred to as ‘strict scrutiny’. The gun lobby likes to say that these amendments are about ensuring a right to bear arms – but that is already contained in both the Oklahoma and Federal constitutions. What these provisions actually do is call into question sensible public safety laws that are already on the books in Oklahoma.

Nearly any law involving the use, carry, sale, or possession of guns could be challenged and invalidated under H.J.R. 1009, including:

  • The state’s carry permitting system, which could be invalidated, effectively lowering the bar for who can carry handguns in public to include people convicted of violent crimes and repeat drunk drivers and alcohol abusers
  • Overturning laws prohibiting handguns in sensitive places, like K-12 schools, colleges, and sports arenas
  • Laws preventing minors from possessing firearms, which is currently illegal in Oklahoma
  • Laws that temporarily remove guns from dangerous domestic abusers

The bill would also force state taxpayers to fund the steady stream of lawsuits aimed at dismantling public safety laws. In Missouri, the state auditor estimated that a similar provision would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

After Louisiana adopted a provision similar to H.J.R. 1009, defendants challenged the criminal statutes related to carrying concealed handguns and the statutes preventing juveniles from possessing handguns. Fortunately, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed this ruling.

Simultaneously, the legislature is considering S.B. 1185 and H.B. 3098, which taken together with current law, would allow almost anyone, regardless of state of residency, training, or criminal history, to openly carry handguns in public in the state of Oklahoma.

H.B. 3098 would remove the requirement for Oklahoma residents to obtain a permit in order to openly carry handguns in public. S.B. 1185 would allow people from states that do not require a permit to openly carry firearms, without any permit or even the assurance that they have handled a firearm before. Currently, Oklahoma law requires its own residents to obtain a permit to openly carry a handgun. S.B. 1185 would grant more freedom to openly carry handguns in public to out-of-state residents than Oklahoma currently grants to its own citizens.

All of these pieces of legislation are expected to move imminently – the time to weigh in is now. These pieces of legislation are too dangerous to let them pass quietly.

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