A measure moving through the Oklahoma legislature would mean adults in Oklahoma will need no training and no background checks to legally carry guns.
Bill 2597 sailed easily through the Oklahoma House and moved through the Senate Appropriations Committee last Wednesday by a vote of 18 to 4.
Once passed by the Senate, it will move on to Governor Kevin Stitt. He has indicated he will sign it.
District 7 Representative Ben Loring represents Ottawa County and part of Delaware county. Loring, a Democrat, is now in his third term in the Oklahoma House. He has represented Oklahoma’s 7th District, since 2015.
He says he thinks the law, as written, is too broad.
“One of the issues we have right now is, in reality, law enforcement is somewhat outgunned out there on the street,” Loring says. “To allow just anyone to carry is a problem. Right now, if officers see someone with an open gun they have the right to ask for a permit. If the bill is passed, they do not have that right.”
Loring, a former prosecutor, says the law passed by the House would allow even someone who is totally blind to carry a weapon.
“A guy could have a shotgun and an AK-47 standing across the street from an elementary school and the officer could do nothing about it,” Loring observes. “I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment but I also recognize, as courts have said, there are reasonable restrictions that can apply. I think the current law is a reasonable way to deal with these issues.”
Called the “constitutional carry” bill by supporters, the bill would allow most Oklahomans over age 21 to carry a gun, concealed or unconcealed, without a license.
“Right now, you need to show the most modest degree of ability to handle the gun. I have no problem with that,” Loring says.
“I have a concern about people with no concept of how to store a gun, how to clean a gun and no knowledge of what their legal rights and responsibilities are if they pull a gun out on somebody. They don’t have to have any of that if this new law passes.”
The measure would not apply to felons, those who with an adjudicated mental illness or to someone who has a domestic violence conviction. Guns also still would not be allowed on public college campuses in Oklahoma.
Former Governor Mary Fallin vetoed a similar bill in 2018.