Proposed Bill Would Allow Oklahomans To Carry Handguns Without License

Friday, January 24th 2014, 11:13 pm
By: Tess Maune

An Oklahoma legislator proposes a bill that would allow gun owners to "carry firearms without getting a license."

The way Oklahoma's law works now, anyone who passes a background check can buy a firearm. But to carry a gun, openly or concealed, you must have a handgun license.

To get that license there's a lengthy process, and one state senator said that goes against the constitution.

"I've always been a strong proponent of the 2nd amendment," said Republican state senator Nathan Dahm.

Dahm said the nation's right to bear arms is being violated.

"I believe that it says exactly what it means, that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," Dahm said. "I think that a lot of the laws that we have are an infringement upon that."

The senator has now written a bill of his own, that he said would bring Oklahoma's gun laws in line with what America's forefathers intended.

"It would just be that you could carry a weapon openly without having a concealed carry permit," Dahm said.

There are a number of steps to take before someone can get a handgun license.

You must pass a gun-safety course, file papers with the county you live in, pass a background check and pay a fee to get the actual license.

"They should be able to protect themselves without having to jump through all those hoops," said Dahm.

If passed, background checks would still be mandatory before buying a gun. And because of that, RJ's Gun Sales owner, Scott Murry said he supports the legislation.

"I don't see anything wrong with it, but I do prefer that they have training. And, of course, if they purchase a gun, they'll have to go through a background check, so that should be good enough," Murry said.

It's the training issue that worries retired Army veteran Patrick Lovelace, who said the bill is a bad idea.

The proposed legislation means gun safety courses that are required now would only be optional.

"I believe we need to maintain as much security as we can, particularly dealing with civilians," said Lovelace. "As strict as we can get 'em - we're better off."

With the proposed law, Dahm said it would still be illegal for convicted felons to own or carry a firearm, but he said it doesn't matter what laws are in place, guns will still end up in the hands of criminals.

"There's always gonna be bad characters and if somebody really wants to do something evil, they'll find a way to do it," Dahm said.

His legislation would also lower the age to carry a handgun from 21 to 18.

The bill has gained national attention, in part because Senate Bill 1473 was filed as "The Piers Morgan Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Without Infringement Act," or "The Piers Morgan Act," for short.

"A lot of times the names that are given to them are the exact opposite, it's somewhat ironic," said Dahm. "Since this is strengthening 2nd amendment rights, why not name it after somebody that is always trying to further restrict those rights," said Dahm.

Piers Morgan is a CNN television host and a vocal gun-control advocate. Dahm said when Morgan learned of the bill, he sent a tweet to Dahm, inviting the senator to be on his show.

"I think debate is healthy. I think conversation is healthy. I think we need to discuss it, we need to have a discussion," Dahm said.

Dahm said he's flying out to discuss the topic live on Morgan's show Monday.

There are still a number of hurdles the bill must pass between the senate and house before it lands on the governor's desk.