OKLAHOMA CITY — A state lawmaker wants to allow guns in the capitol, carried by any one with a valid permit.
Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Tulsa) wrote Senate Bill 66 to protect what he said is a fundamental right guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
“It’s not so much about a need [to carry firearms in the capitol],” he told NewsChannel 4. “It’s about the right for people to defend themselves. I don’t think you should have to give up that right to self-defense to exercise your right to come and petition your government.”
Weapons of any kind are currently prohibited in the capitol, which has security checkpoints at every entrance.
The only people allowed to carry firearms are law enforcement officers, who must sign in to the building, said Capt. Paul Timmons, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.
The governor and the legislative leadership collaborate with DPS to set the policy, Timmons told NewsChannel 4, and right now the protocols work and the building is secure.
But, security is only one aspect of the bill that would enable anyone with a handgun license to breeze right through the security line.
In fact, the bill takes pains to point out security officers cannot inspect the weapon or restrain the person carrying it without probable cause of a crime.
Opponents, however, feel the measure would invite crime to a safe space.
"If anything, we need to have less guns in public places, where children might be, where families might be, where heated debates happen on a daily basis," said Mark Faulk, an activist with Oklahomans for Gun Safety. "It surprises me that this state legislator does not trust the State Highway Patrol to secure the capitol. They have surveillance. They go through detectors. So, we don't have guns in there. Why does he want to introduce guns?"
Faulk said he would rather see the legislature take care of the budget, education and mental health instead of tackling gun rights.
Dahm dismissed concerns over heated debates becoming violence, adding other state capitols already have laws similar to what he is proposing.
“Tensions can rise but, again, that doesn’t mean that those people that are law-abiding citizens should have their rights infringed upon because other people might get in a fist fight or something,” he said. “It goes back to the individual, not to the item, so those areas that we have seen those [recent shooting] attacks have been in gun-free zones.
“So, I’m a firm believer that the more citizens are there to protect themselves, the less those incidents will take place.”
If passed, the bill would take effect in November.
SB 66 is one of three recent firearms bills Dahm has proposed.
SB 65 would prohibit public money from being spent to push gun control measures.
SB 67 is two-pronged.
The first aspect, named the 'Second Amendment Preservation Act,' declares the state won’t follow any federal acts or orders that infringe on the Second Amendment.
The second, known as the 'Firearms Freedom Act,' would exempt from federal regulation any gun made and used in Oklahoma.