Second time in a row: Oklahoma senator proposes ‘constitutional carry’ bill

OKLAHOMA CITY – Even though a similar bill was vetoed earlier this year, an Oklahoma senator is again proposing a bill that would allow Oklahomans to carry a gun without a license.

Last session, Sen. Nathan Dahm authored Senate Bill 1212, which would have allowed Oklahomans to carry a firearm as long as they were at least 21-years-old, or 18-year-old 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’,”  Dahm told News 4 earlier this year.

However, state leaders expressed concern about the safety of the bill.

"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," said Beth Green, with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

In addition to safety concerns for law enforcement and citizens, Green said that it could have negative consequences on state agencies like the OSBI. Concealed carry permits generate millions of dollars for the OSBI, and Green said losing that could be a big hit to the agency.

"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."

While the bill passed both chambers, Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed it.

“Oklahoma is a state that respects the Second Amendment. As governor, I have signed both concealed-carry and open-carry legislation. I support the right to bear arms and own a pistol, a rifle, and a shotgun.

Oklahomans believe that law-abiding individuals should be able to defend themselves. I believe the firearms requirement we current have in state law are few and reasonable. Senate Bill 1212 eliminates the training requirements for persons carrying a firearms in Oklahoma. It reduces the level of the background check necessary to carry a gun.

SB 1212 eliminates the current ability of Oklahoma law enforcement to distinguish between those carrying guns who have been trained and vetted, and those who have not.

Again, I believe the firearms laws we currently have in place are effective, appropriate and minimal, and serve to reassure our citizens that people who are carrying handguns in this state are qualified to do so," Fallin said.

For the second time, Sen. Dahm has proposed a similar bill that would accomplish the same goals.

"People should have that opportunity to be able to defend themselves without having to go and get the government’s permission first," Sen. Dahm said. "Especially with a right that’s enshrined in our constitution."

Currently, Oklahomans must take an eight-hour course to learn about proper firearm usage and laws regarding gun usage before they can get their concealed carry permit.