The Oklahoma House has passed legislation that would allow state gun owners to open carry without a permit or training. If the bill is signed into law, Oklahoma would become the 31st state to have such relaxed open carry laws.
House Bill 3098, unofficially dubbed the “constitutional open carry” measure, was introduced by Republican Rep. Jeff Coody of Grandfield. The state representative has called it “the ultimate freedom bill regarding open carry.”
On March 10, the Oklahoma House passed Bill 3098 by a vote of 73-15, despite a long and heated debate.
“The system we have in place works,” said Democratic State Rep. Jason Dunnington of Oklahoma City, according to KOCO. “It’s not broken.”
Republican Rep. John Bennett of Sallisaw argued that the bill reflected the Second Amendment, stating “it’s our God-given right to defend our self.”
The legislation would still require gun owners to obtain a permit in order to conceal carry. However, any Oklahoma resident over 21-years-old and without a felony record would be able to purchase and open carry a firearm without training.
“So you have situations where you have gun shows and they don’t do background checks, and now you have someone that could go to a gun show, buy a gun without a background check and openly carry it anywhere they wanted in Oklahoma,” Rep. Dunnington said, according to KFOR.
Opposing House lawmakers added that the legislation would financially cripple the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), a program that processes permits. This would lead to job losses.
OSBI spokesperson Jessica Brown issued a statement after the House’s decision.
“OSBI is a state agency and we will do what is the will of the state legislature, however we believe a more educated public is a better public no matter what education subject is,” Brown said.
Coody had pitched his bill as reflecting a constitutional right.
“I don’t want anyone who can legally own a weapon, who can legally purchase a weapon to have to ask the government permission to carry that weapon off their property, in the open,” Coody said.
Oklahoma residents have given a mixed response to Coody’s legislation.
“I can’t believe this is even being considered,” Sabine Brown of Mothers Demand Action told KJRH. “This is a horrible and dangerous idea.”
Mark Middleton, a Tulsa resident, stated that he thought there was nothing controversial about the bill.
“As discussed, there’s plenty of other states around the nation that have open-carried without licensing,” Middleton said.
The Oklahoma Senate will vote on whether or not Bill 3098 reaches Republican Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk.