Permitless carry bill will likely pass Senate, leadership says

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill allowing for permitless carry in Oklahoma is eligible to be heard on the Senate floor next week and expected to pass.

HB 2597, authored by House majority floor leader Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City passed the Senate appropriations committee Wednesday by a vote of 18 to 4.

The bill 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.

Sen. Kim David, R-Porter said it will likely be heard on the Senate floor next Wednesday, where Senate leadership said it is poised to pass.

On Thursday, petitions opposing the legislation were delivered to lawmakers ahead of the vote.

The group Moms Demand Action, a national organization advocating against gun violence in America, delivered about 4,200 signatures. Earlier in the day, they joined Oklahoma faith leaders at the capitol who said they have concerns about the legislation.

"If you were to look in Missouri, you would notice that the city of St. Louis has seen a 23 percent increase in gun assault. You look at Arizona, they’ve had a 44 percent increase in gun assaults," said Mitch Randall, executive director of the Baptist Center For Ethics. "If the Senate passes it and Governor Stitt signs it, what I’m concerned about is this escalation of violence. As a minister of the Gospel, as a Baptist of the Minister, if this happens — our State Legislature, our elected officials will have blood on their hands."

Backers of the bill have stressed, though the bill would not requiring training before carrying a firearm, it does not stop anyone from seeking it.

Speaking with reporters Thursday afternoon, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City said David has worked to ensure safeguards are placed in the bill. He also also noted the argument of Constitutional or permitless carry resulting in more crime has been brought up in the past.

"That’s a tired, worn out argument," Treat said. "When we first had concealed carry permits, people were saying there was going to be crime in the streets. People would be shot in Walmart parking lots just right and left. That has not born out. When we went from concealed carry to open carry, the same worn tired argument was made."

Treat said he would be voting in support of the bill. Senate minority leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City said she would be against it.

"The majority of my district and the majority of information, calls, letters and emails that I get from my constituency oppose," Floyd said.

However, both Floyd and Treat both said they expect the bill to pass the Senate floor.

"It came through committee with relative ease," Treat said. "Bipartisan vote, so I anticipate there will be questions. There will be debate, but I think it will pass overwhelmingly."

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