OKLAHOMA CITY — A “constitutional carry” gun bill, similar to one vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin last year, went through the House Public Safety Committee on Thursday morning with surprisingly little discussion and no debate.
House Bill 2597, whose 11 authors include Majority Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, passed on a 9-2 vote with the only question concerning how the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation would make up the $4 million to $6 million a year it stands to lose.
Called “unlicensed carry” by opponents, the bill would effectively remove all training and licensing requirements for most firearms possession. It would not change existing state law on where guns can and cannot be taken or other restrictions such as criminal record.
Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, has authored his own version of constitutional carry, Senate Bill 12, but because of more specific language the House bill is said to be more agreeable to the business interests that prevailed on Fallin to veto last year’s bill.
The OSBI says the new law would cost it $4 million to $6 million a year in lost revenue from gun licensing fees.
Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, who presented the bill Thursday, seemed to dispute that figure and said he didn’t think it would have any fiscal impact on the agency.
Constitutional carry, so called because proponents believe the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not allow for state or local licensing for the use of firearms, has in the past sparked intense legislative debate.
Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami, put the only questions to Roberts on Thursday, though, and those had to do with the fiscal impact on the OSBI. Loring and Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, cast the dissenting votes.
Christine Jackson of the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action said it is “baffling (that) our lawmakers want to pass legislation that will make our state more dangerous.”
“Law-abiding citizens should have the ability to exercise their constitutional right to carry firearms without government interference,” Roberts said in a news release.
Getting the most attention in the committee was HB 1926, which proposes a self-perpetuating grant program to help install exterior cameras on school buses to help catch motorists who pass stopped buses in violation of state law.
Rep. Dell Kerbs, R-Shawnee, said the idea is to send citations to violators with most of the receipts designated for grants to buy additional cameras.
The measure passed 10-1, despite some concern the violation would go against the driving record of the vehicle owner regardless of whether they were the actual violator.