OKLAHOMA CITY — State Sen. Nathan Dahm on Tuesday filed a bill that attempts to nullify any potential federal statute that enacts red flag laws concerning gun ownership.
But House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, said federal law trumps state law, and she noted that no federal legislation on red flag laws has been passed.
Red flag laws attempt to take gun ownership away from those who are deemed dangerous.
“We have to deal with this time and time again in Oklahoma,” Virgin said. “We see state legislators trying to overrule the federal government. That is just not how the Constitution works.”
She said measures such as Dahm’s Senate Bill 1081 are a distraction from the real issues the state faces.
“We have not seen any evidence the federal government will enact some form of a red flag law,” she said.
“It seems to me that this is a good way to rally your base by filing legislation in response to legislation that hasn’t been passed at the federal level,” said Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman.
But Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, said states can ignore federal laws that violate the U.S. Constitution, which contains the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms.
“In America, we learn from an early age that we are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Dahm said. “We have due process protections enshrined in our Constitution. Red flag laws violate all these principles, violate numerous constitutionally protected rights, and set a dangerous precedent. In Oklahoma, we already have legal processes for those who are adjudicated as a threat to themselves or others. We don’t need new laws that will further infringe on rights. We should be about protecting rights.”
He said he disagrees that federal law always trumps state law, adding that unconstitutional laws should not be followed.
He believes red flag laws fall in that category.
He cited medical marijuana, saying it is illegal under federal law but states have passed laws to allow it.
“Red flag laws can provide a critical tool for law enforcement and family members to deescalate dangerous situations and get people the help they need,” the Oklahoma Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said in a statement. “They are drafted with strong due process protections, are temporary and generally leave the person with no criminal record.
“They have proven to reduce firearm suicides and shown to also help prevent mass shootings.”
Don Spencer is president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association.
He said his organization supports Dahm’s measure.
Red flag laws are extreme risk orders, he said.
It is a backdoor way of impeding upon a person’s Second Amendment rights, Spencer said.