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Battle over gun bills heats up at the state Capitol as lawmakers hash out details

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A battle is brewing over two proposed gun bills in our state.

One of those would allow anyone 21 or older to openly carry without a license.

Big organizations like the OKC Thunder and the Chamber of Commerce have come out against the bills.

But the head of the gun lobby in Oklahoma says our state would be joining several other states with these proposals.

He pointed out Louisiana passed a similar law a few years ago, and the Pelicans, of course, are still in New Orleans.

But there are still plenty who oppose the bill, including our state investigators.

Two controversial bills are in conference right now at the Capitol, meaning over the next couple weeks, lawmakers will be hashing out changes to the bills that passed overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate.

The OSBI has come out strongly against open carry without a license.

“If you’re carrying a gun openly I need to feel reassured you have been vetted properly, you have gone through the proper national fingerprint base, criminal history record checks, your mental health has been checked,” OSBI spokesperson Jessica Brown said.

More than a quarter million people in Oklahoma have a license to carry a gun.

Tim Gillespie is the head of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association.

He doesn’t think licenses should be required.

“As a general rule when you look at states, the higher level of gun freedom, gun rights, the lower the crime rate,” Gillespie said.

OSBI and other law enforcement agencies are concerned when an officer pulls up to a scene and multiple people have guns, it could be hard to tell who should have one and who shouldn’t.

“Bad guys don’t have guns in a holster where you can see it, they’ve either got it concealed or they’ve got it drawn,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie is also skeptical of the money OSBI might lose through licenses.

The agency is predicting it could be up to $8 million.

“It might cost them some, in that they wouldn’t be able to fund their budget off of that,” Gillespie said.

“We’re going to have a bigger turnaround time which is going to hurt prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies trying to get bad people off the streets in a timely fashion,” Brown said.

One bill will add language to the Oklahoma Constitution that citizens have the right to bear arms with no infringement.

The other one would still require those who want to carry concealed to get a license.