Oklahoma lawmakers introduce slew of Second Amendment bills

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

What’s a pro-Second Amendment legislator to do once they’ve approved Constitutional Carry, passed anti-red flag laws, and helped to designate their state as a 2A sanctuary? Well, Republicans in Oklahoma haven’t had any trouble coming up with legislation that they believe will further strengthen and secure the right to keep and bear arms in the Sooner State, and this year’s session could have a decided Second Amendment flavor to it.

State Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow – who is running for Congress to replace current U.S. Sen. James Lankford – has filed several measures for the upcoming session. Senate Bill 1199 seeks to prohibit federal officers from confiscating guns in Oklahoma, SB 1200 would require federal agents to notify the local sheriff before operating in a county. SB 1201 would allow sheriffs to enlist citizens to form a posse to defend the county from “federal overreach.”

“The Second Amendment was never solely about hunting unless you’re referring to hunting tyrants,” Dahm said in a statement. “It was about the people being able to protect themselves against a government that would seek to disarm them.”

Dahm’s SB 1093 would lower the age for a handgun license from 21 to 18 years of age.

Dahm’s SB 1251 would create a militia for the state and allow that “privately owned semiautomatic firearms may be required for service for the Oklahoma State Guard or the Unorganized Militia if such firearms are ordered or mustered for service.”

Some of these bills are more performative than substantive (if things ever get so bad that sheriffs are having to form posses to prevent federal authorities from disarming the public, I think we’re probably past the point of worrying about the state of Oklahoma punishing sheriffs who do so, for instance), but there are also several bills that seek to clarify or clear up any confusion over existing statutes.

State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, filed SB 1098, declaring that firearm suppressors manufactured and kept in Oklahoma “shall not be subject to federal law” or regulation, including registration.

Bergstrom’s SB 1132, while keeping that it is still unlawful to carry in government buildings, would create exceptions allowing concealed or unconcealed carry at the state Capitol building, the Oklahoma State Fair and Tulsa State Fair, any public meeting conducted in accordance with the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, and in mental health facilities.

Bergstrom’s SB 1131 alters regulations regarding open carry to allow a gun over to carry rifles and shotguns in a fashion “where the barrel of the firearm is safely pointed in a general up or down direction,” though that requirement is waived when at a range, while hunting, or “during an act of self-defense.”

Bergstrom’s SB 1148 adds streets, sidewalks and alleys to the list of “public” places where open carry is permitted, and provides that an individual may openly carry a firearm on the property of a nonprofit entity “with the permission from the public trust or nonprofit entity.”

Bergstrom’s SB 1114 allows for possession of firearms on school property to be hidden from view in a vehicle if for the purpose of self-defense.

Bergstrom’s SB 1118 removes language that would have required an applicant for gun safety training to demonstrate competence with the type of firearm the applicant desires to carry.

Bergstrom’s SB 1122 removes language prohibiting the transport of firearms and allows for firing a weapon from a vehicle for the purpose of self-defense.

Most of those bills are solid, though Bergstrom’s bill to allow Oklahoma-made suppressors to be possessed without registering them under the National Firearms Act is another one those performative bills, as we saw when the neighboring state of Kansas adopted its own “Firearms Freedom” law several years ago. Two men ended up convicted on federal charges after selling and buying a Kansas-made suppressor, and the U.S. Supreme Court turned away their appeal without comment back in 2019 (the Trump administration, incidentally, weighed in on the side of the federal government and not the state of Kansas or the individuals who were prosecuted).

In addition to the potential new laws, Oklahomans may also get the opportunity to strengthen the state constitution’s existing language protecting the right to keep and bear arms.

State Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, has announced Tuesday he intends to file a resolution that would send a constitutional amendment to a vote of the people. Roberts said the language is in need of an update.

“It is imperative that we reinforce the right to bear arms outlined in our constitution in order to protect that right from state court rulings that have tried to weaken it,” Roberts said statement. The resolution Roberts proposes would prohibit registration or “special taxation” on acquiring or transferring ownership of firearms, ammunition or components of firearms.

I’m guessing that would get the support of the vast majority of voters in Oklahoma, and hope they do get the opportunity to weigh in on this.

All in all, I think there are a lot of great bills for gun owners and Second Amendment supporters on tap in Oklahoma this year, and even the few clunkers have good intentions behind them. The biggest question now is how many of these bills will become law, and I suspect the answer to that depends in large part on Oklahoma gun owners and their engagement and involvement with their representatives over the coming months.