OKLAHOMA CITY – After being in session less than a week, Oklahoma lawmakers have already sent a controversial House bill through committee.
House Bill 2597 would essentially allow many gun owners to carry without a license.
Under the bill, it would allow “the carrying of a firearm, concealed or unconcealed, loaded or unloaded, by a person who is twenty-one (21) years of age or older or by a person who is eighteen (18) years of age but not yet twenty-one (21) years of age and the person is a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard or was discharged under honorable conditions from the United States Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard, and the person is otherwise not disqualified from the possession or purchase of a firearm under state or federal law and is not carrying the firearm in furtherance of a crime.”
The bill also states that those who are illegally in the United States would not be able to possess a weapon.
It goes on to say that “the availability of a license to carry pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act shall not be construed to prohibit the lawful transport or carrying of a handgun or pistol in a vehicle or on or about the person whether concealed or unconcealed, loaded or unloaded and without a valid handgun license as permitted by law.”
On Thursday, the House’s Public Safety Committee approved the measure 9-2, which allows it to move forward in the legislative process.
However, not everyone is happy about the bill’s approval in committee.
“It’s baffling to me that as gun violence continues to persist across the country, our lawmakers want to pass legislation that will make our state more dangerous,” said Christine Jackson, volunteer leader with the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Over and over, Oklahomans have shown legislators that we don’t want permitless carry. I’m disheartened that once again we must fight against legislation that would be disastrous for our communities.”
The bill is similar to Senate Bill 12, which is expected to be heard in a Senate committee in the future.
Sen. Nathan Dahm, the author of Senate Bill 12, says he believes the bill would restore law-abiding citizens' rights. He says it would also give those in dangerous situations the ability to protect themselves without having to wait to be approved for a concealed carry permit.
Last year, Senate Bill 1212 was approved by lawmakers but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin.