Henry shoots down 'open carry'
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Saturday, May 15, 2010
5/16/10 at 10:56 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Brad Henry on Friday vetoed legislation that would have created a so-called open carry law and allowed the state to opt out of federal health-care reform.
House Bill 3354 by Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, would have allowed Oklahomans with concealed-carry permits to openly carry weapons.
"I'm a strong supporter of the right to bear arms and have earned an 'A' rating from the NRA, but this measure does nothing to strengthen Second Amendment protections," Henry said. "We already allow trained and licensed Oklahomans to protect themselves by carrying concealed handguns, and it doesn't make anyone safer to wear a holster and display that weapon to the rest of the public. On the contrary, it makes it more difficult and dangerous for law enforcement officers to try to sort out the good guys and the bad guys when they arrive at a crime scene."
The Oklahoma State Troopers Association opposed the bill.
"The legislation could also damage Oklahoma's image as a safe, friendly state with a great quality of life, making it less attractive to new business and industry and negatively impacting future prosperity," Henry said.
Duncan vowed an override attempt in the House early next week.
"I am disappointed the governor made the wrong decision," he said. "The bill received overwhelming support in the House and Senate. The mystery that will unfold next week is how many House Democrats who voted for the bill will have the courage of their early vote or how many will walk (leave) the floor to avoid voting with the governor."
The bill passed the House by a 74-24 vote and the Senate by a 33-15 vote.
Henry also vetoed a measure that would have prohibited Oklahoma from following the new federal health-care law and authorized the Legislature to file a lawsuit over the issue.
The governor said House Joint Resolution 1054 would have triggered a futile legal challenge and a possible loss of federal health-care funding.
"By essentially stating that Oklahoma will not abide by new federal health-care laws, HJR 1054 invites legal action against the state in a case it cannot win," he said. "No state has the authority to selectively ignore federal laws of its choosing, and any attempt to do so will be ruled unconstitutional by the courts, but not before a costly legal battle."
Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a Democrat running for governor, had declined to file suit, saying it would be futile and expensive.
Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, the House sponsor, said an override is possible.
Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, the Senate sponsor, said he is unsure whether he has the votes in the Senate for an override but would study the issue next week.
Brogdon is running for governor.
"It is unfortunate that they think it is futile to oppose a federal health-care bill that will raise taxes, erode quality and doesn't recognize at all that states have an ability to create their own health-care solutions, like we have done in our state with the Insure Oklahoma program," said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa.
"Luckily, we have been listening to the people of Oklahoma who don't want this bill and certainly can't afford it. We will do everything in our power to make sure this heavy-handed health-care mandate is not imposed from Washington on the people of this state," he said.
A veto override will require 32 votes in the Senate and 68 in the House.
HJR 1054 passed the Senate by a 25-17 vote and the House by a 71-24 vote.
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465
Gov. Brad Henry: He nixed measures that would have allowed "open carry" and allowed the state to opt out of the new federal health-care law.