OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill allowing permitless carry in Oklahoma has been signed into law, just hours after it passed the Oklahoma Senate.
“We want to make sure that we let Oklahomans know that we are going to protect their rights to bear arms,” Governor Kevin Stitt said Wednesday.
House Bill 2597 allows for anyone age 21 or over to carry a firearm without a permit. The age requirement for veterans, active duty and reserve military personnel is 18 or over.
Presented by Senate majority floor leader Kim David, R-Porter, the measure passed the Senate floor on Wednesday by a vote of 40 to 6 after passing the Senate appropriations committee last Wednesday.
Sen. David stressed the bill doesn’t change federal background checks required by law to purchase a firearm and private property owners will still have the right to allow or deny concealed or open carry on their premises.
“We allow for people in other states to be able to carry in this state without a permit,” David said. “This bill simply allows law abiding citizens that wish to carry a weapon to be able to do that in our state also without paying for the permit.”
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Supporters of the bill have stressed, while the bill doesn’t require training, it does not stop anyone from seeking it.
“This legislation would allow law abiding citizens to keep and bear those arms without those infringements that we have,” Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow said on the Senate floor. “It is the one right that says shall not be infringed and it is the one right that we infringe upon the most.”
Some say the bill is long overdue.
“We’re hoping that this will be one of those things that we can start restoring these individual rights instead of downgrading them and pretending they’re a constitutional orphan,” Alex Kearns with the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association told News 4 Wednesday.
For weeks, opponents of the bill have rallied at the capitol asking lawmakers to vote no.
“We’re not trying to take your guns away. We’re not against gun owners or owning a gun, but we believe that there are policies that work,” said Debbie Weir, director of the national ‘Moms Demand Action’ chapter, at the rally.
Group volunteer Cacky Poarch said they did find the passage surprising, but they are disappointed.
“We had hundreds of volunteers that talked with lawmakers, that urged lawmakers to oppose this,” Poarch said. “If you need a driver’s license to drive a car, you should have a permit to use a gun. I still believe that.”
Opponents of the bill inside the Senate say this legislation could be dangerous.
“We should be concerned with AK’s and AR’s and semi-automated weapons that have the capacity to inflict mass shootings that we have seen on a national level,” Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma said. “When we currently are a top 10 state in the worst quality of life for women and children, I think this particular law is further opening the gate to some devastation on those two particular groups.”
Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman said it could possibly add more burden on law enforcement.
“This bill puts upon new training obligations. A new standard that they have to interact with gun owners and this is something that I personally and also in my capacity as a senator for senate District 16 cannot support,” Sen. Boren said.
The bill goes into effect Nov. 1, 2019.