OKLAHOMA CITY – Officials with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said their agency could lose up to $8 million under a gun bill that passed the Senate on Thursday.
OSBI is already freezing positions, and officials tell NewsChannel 4 they’re looking at furloughs.
Aside from public safety concerns, the OSBI is looking at how a pair of gun bills could trim their budget even more.
More than a quarter million people in Oklahoma have a license to carry a gun.
The OSBI issues and renews those licenses, and that money helps fund the agency.
If two bills in the legislature right now become law, that funding would decrease drastically.
“It would have a devastating effect on OSBI. We would not have any more gun licensing. That could be up to $8 million and, for a very small agency, that would be a devastating amount,” said OSBI spokesperson Jessica Brown.
If that bill passes, it would allow people to vote to change the Constitution, not requiring a license at all.
A second bill would cost the agency $2 million and would allow anyone 21 or older to carry a gun openly.
But, if someone wants to carry concealed, they would still have to get a license.
“I think you do have to be mindful though that, when we’re talking about someone’s Second Amendment rights, that shouldn’t be a way to balance the state’s budget so, if there are implications, we need to deal with that,” said Sen. Kyle Loveless.
Senators who support the bills want added protections in our state constitution for gun owners.
“We don’t have a fundamental right in our state constitution to carry and have firearms, where on the federal level we do. We just want to make sure, as a state, our right to bear arms and have firearms won’t be encroached,” Loveless said.
If these bills succeed, state investigators will have to crunch the numbers again, but they said more cuts will trickle down to the small towns across our state where they help solve crimes.
“Our effectiveness as agents, as laboratory analysts will diminish greatly, because we’re not going to have the resources to get out there and do our job,” Brown said.
The NRA sent a letter to all the senators urging them to vote for both bills.
Right now, both bills are in conference, where changes will likely happen.
We’re told they’re considering whether open carry should be allowed at sporting events.