OKLAHOMA CITY - The state's investigation bureau says there are both safety and financial concerns over a newly passed bill allowing permit-less carry.
Senate Bill 1212, authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, passed Wednesday night in the Oklahoma Senate. It is currently awaiting a decision from Governor Mary Fallin.
According to Sen. Dahm, the bill would allow law-abiding Oklahomans to carry a firearm, open or concealed, so long as the person is at least 21 years old or 18 years old for veterans.
"This is the only right that we require people to preemptively go and do a background check, go through the finger printing process, the licensing process, jump through all those hoops in order to exercise their constitutional protective right and the second amendment is the one right that says ‘shall not be infringed’," explained Dahm.
Under this measure, Oklahomans wishing to purchase a firearm would still have to undergo a background check as required by federal law. Agent Beth Green with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation ('OSBI') says there is concern for safety if Oklahomans were to carry firearms without permits.
"Had this law been in effect in 1995 on April 19, Timothy McVeigh couldn`t have been contained," Green said. "Law enforcement officers would have no way to know whether or not a person carrying a gun is legally doing so nor would they have the ability to ask them if they’re doing so unless they’re caught specifically in a crime."
On the Senate floor Wednesday night, members voting in opposition voiced similar concerns. Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said there wasn't enough time to review this measure.
"It completely changes the policy in Oklahoma regarding concealed carry and carrying weapons in public," Floyd told News 4. "That kind of major policy decision needs to be vetted. Not just thrown on our desk a few days before we end session and it wasn’t."
According to Floyd, the other concern is the risk of OSBI losing about $4.7 million in revenue. Agent Green said that leaves the potential of having to reduce their staff levels to about 63 percent.
"We’ll also lose an additional 40 to 60 additional positions, and this is across the agency," she said. "If we have less agents to respond to violent crimes, we have less criminalists to test forensic evidence. I mean, this significantly impacts everybody’s lives."
Sen. Dahm recognized there were concerns from Senate members; however, he noted businesses and organizations which do not allow firearms in or on their grounds would still be able to prohibit them.
"I don’t foresee any negative repercussions. Bad people will do bad things whether or not we have a licensing requirement. We see the same thing with vehicles. We still require people to go through a licensing process with that and people still do bad things with vehicles," he said.
As for the financial concerns, he said no longer requiring a permit to carry does not eliminate the option all together.
"With keeping the permitting process in place for those who want to be able to carry it out of state, we would continue to see OSBI receive revenue," Dahm added. "Most of the revenue they get goes to cover the cost of it anyway."
If the bill is signed into law, it would take effect Nov. 1. A spokesperson for the Governor's office said they have received the bill, but they are withholding comment until they fully review it.