Permitless carry bill passes Oklahoma House

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill allowing for permitless carry in Oklahoma has passed the House floor.

House Bill 2597 would allow anyone age 21 or over to carry a firearm without a permit and permit veterans and active duty and reserve military personnel age 18 or over to carry without a permit. Supporters in the House say the measure would prohibit felons and those with domestic violence convictions or who have been adjudicated as having a mental illness from carrying a firearm and would not affect current federal law requiring a background check for the in-store purchase of a firearm.

"This bill deals with the lawful carrying of a firearm by restoring the second amendment right to a peaceful law abiding citizen that should not have been taken away," said Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore.

Backers of the bill stressed training would not required, but it does not stop anyone from seeking training.

"This is a yes-no vote, do you Oklahomans deserve the same rights that we afford states? Other citizens that visit our state from Kansas, from Missouri, from Arkansas, or one of the other 15 states that allows constitutional carry?" Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City said.

The bill did not come without concerns or questions from opponents on the House floor Wednesday.

"Explain to me how it is a good idea that law enforcement officer who have been trained get caught up in cross fire on their own and putting guns in hands of individuals who haven’t been trained is a good idea? Please explain that to me," questioned Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City, referring to the recent death of a New York City officer as a result of 'friendly fire'.

In response, Rep. West stated "I fall back to what the Constitution says. The Constitution does not say training is required but beyond that when people do get firearms, most people are responsible and they want to be responsible so they seek out this training."

Hours before the debate, the group "Moms Demand Action" delivered more than 2,400 signatures in opposition to the bill to House Minority leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka.

"She [Virgin] has been a strong advocate for us. I’ve been involved with Moms Demand Action for the last four years. Representative Virgin has been very vocal in her opposition to these kinds of bills and as the House Minority leader. She continues to carry our message," said Lauren Van Allen with Moms Demand Action. "We support the second amendment. We certainly do not want to take anyone’s rights away to confiscate their guns or anything like that. All we ask is that you’re safe, that you’re well trained."

In places where carrying a firearm is currently prohibited, the bill allows those private property owners and college campuses to continue to set their own policies regarding the carrying of firearms on those premises.

“This bill solidifies the Second Amendment rights of Oklahomans while protecting private property rights,” said Speaker McCall said in a statement. “We worked with private businesses, schools and college campuses to ensure that their rights are protected.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Senate Bill 12, which is the Senate's version of a similar bill, has been assigned to the Public Safety committee.

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