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Diners in the bar areas of restaurants would be allowed to carry guns so long as they weren't drinking alcohol under the provisions of Oklahoma House Bill 1111, which was approved by the House on Monday. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World file

OKLAHOMA CITY — Legislation one Tulsa lawmaker dryly called the “designated gunslinger” bill advanced off the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday despite doubts about its enforcement.

House Bill 1111, by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, would in theory make it easier to mix guns and alcohol, although the practical effect is unclear.

Patrons would still be barred from bringing guns into establishments where the consumption of alcohol accounts for more than half of the business’ revenue, but the proposed law would permit guns in the bar areas of restaurants if management allows.

So, ultimately, whether guns become more prevalent on such premises would be up to individual restaurants.

“Seems to me that because it deals with firearms, some people just want to get worked up over it,” said West. “Go back and look at the bill. It doesn’t deal with the Wild-Wild-West scenarios we’ve been hearing.”

The change in law would not authorize a person carrying a gun to consume alcohol, but skeptics, including most Democrats, pointed out that the bill includes no penalty for violating the ban on drinking alcohol while carrying a gun in a restaurant or restaurant bar and would transform “willful” violation of firearms laws from felonies with up to a $1,000 fine and/or two years in jail to $250 misdemeanors with no jail.

“If a person without a gun were to order drinks and give one to a buddy with a gun — what is there to prevent that from happening?” asked Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami.

West said it was “more of a self-policing” matter and said that situation could occur presently.

Rep. J.J. Humphrey, R-Lane, said having an armed companion along on a night of drinking was comparable to a designated driver “to make sure everyone gets home safe.”

That prompted Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, to ask if the armed companion would be the “designated gunslinger.”

West chuckled and said the companion would be the “designated carrier.”

Education bills: Several bills intended to help recruit and retain teachers made it through the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education later Monday afternoon. Most of them were carried by Tulsa Democrats John Waldron and Melissa Provenzano.

Waldron, Provenzano and others say they’re concentrating on repairing the “teacher pipeline” that was nearly shut down over the past decade because of low pay and other factors.

Even with substantial improvements in compensation, Oklahoma is relying on thousands of emergency certifications for staffing. Waldron’s and Provenzano’s bills include loan forgiveness for teacher education graduates who accept assignments at high-risk schools, stipends for those who complete capstone internships, and full credit for their years of service for teachers moving from other states when determining their minimum salaries.

Another measure, HB 2803, by Rusty Cornwell, R-Vinita, would extend the minimum teacher pay scale from 25 years to 35 years. By topping out compensation a decade later than currently, policymakers hope to entice teachers eligible for retirement to remain in the classroom.

Officials say as many as 9,000 teachers are or will be eligible to draw full retirement benefits within the next few years.

Gallery: Bills proposed for Oklahoma's 2020 legislative session

Randy Krehbiel




Twitter: @rkrehbiel

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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