Second Amendment supporters and gun owners in the state of Oklahoma thought they scored a significant victory when Senate Republicans in the Oklahoma state legislature overwhelmingly passed a constitutional carry bill by a vote of 33-9. Now, Republican Governor Mary Fallin crushed that victory with the stroke of her pen.
The constitutional carry bill would have allowed individuals 21 and older–who had passed a background check–to carry openly, as well as concealed, without a license or permit. Furthermore, individuals serving in the military, as long as they were 18-years-old, would have had the right to constitutional carry. The law still barred criminals under state and federal law from carrying, and, according to the Associated Press, it would not have expanded constitutional carry to areas where carrying a firearm was already prohibited:
The bill excludes anyone prohibited by state or federal law from owning a weapon as well as those convicted of assault and battery, domestic abuse, violating a protective order or drug crimes.
A background check would still be required before a person could purchase a firearm and handguns would remain prohibited in places where they are currently banned, including elementary schools, colleges, universities and government buildings.
However, Gov. Fallin decided to veto the legislation.
Her veto of the gun bill dealt a rare blow to the National Rifle Association in a conservative state. But the proposal to authorize adults to carry firearms without a permit or training was opposed by law enforcement officials, who said it would weaken background checks and hurt public safety.
In a statement announcing her veto, Fallin stressed her support for the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms and noted she had signed concealed and open carry measures in the past.
“I believe the firearms laws we currently have in place are effective, appropriate and minimal,” she said.
The National Rifle Association had backed the legislation and encouraged Oklahomans to contact Gov. Fallin telling her they supported the measure. But following the veto, the NRA released a scathing statement regarding the governor’s decision to veto the bill. The Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, stated:
“Gov. Fallin vetoed this important piece of self-defense legislation despite the state legislature’s overwhelming approval of the bill and her commitment to NRA members to support constitutional carry when she ran for reelection. Make no mistake, this temporary setback will be rectified when Oklahoma residents elect a new, and genuinely pro-Second Amendment governor.”
Oklahoma would not have been the first state to pass this kind of legislation, as it would have joined states like North Dakota, West Virginia, Idaho, Main, New Hampshire, among others, which have passed similar laws. In total, 13 states have constitutional carry laws on the books.
As Tom wrote about earlier, Gov. Fallin did sign a different piece of pro-gun legislation that expanded the state’s “Stand Your Ground Laws” by allowing Oklahomans to carry in churches.
However, signing constitutional carry into law would have been another significant win for gun owners and gun rights activists in the state.