Permitless carry gun bill sails through Oklahoma committee

Bill vetoed last year by then-Gov. Mary Fallin would allow Oklahomans to carry a gun without training or a background check; it now appears to be sailing toward state's new Republican governor

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill vetoed last year by then-Gov. Mary Fallin that would allow Oklahoma residents to carry a gun without any training or a background check appears to be sailing toward the new Republican governor, who has said he'll sign it.

Dubbed "constitutional carry" by its supporters, the measure easily cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday when a House committee approved it on a 9-2 vote. The measure now advances to the full House. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

At least 14 states have approved some version of permitless carry, most recently South Dakota , according to the National Rifle Association.

Similar legislation cleared the House and Senate last year, but Fallin vetoed it over concerns about the elimination of training and background checks, and opposition from law enforcement.

But Oklahoma's new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Senate Republican Leader Greg Treat both say they support the concept.

"Conceptually, absolutely I'm going to sign it," Stitt told reporters last week. "We are going to be a state that protects the 2nd Amendment."

Stitt said any permitless carry bill should give businesses the right to ban firearms on their property.

The bill approved by the committee on Thursday would allow most Oklahomans 21 and older to carry concealed or unconcealed without a license. Exceptions would include anyone in the country illegally or those convicted of certain crimes. Firearms would still be prohibited in certain locations, including public buildings, schools, professional sporting events and casinos.

Oklahoma also has a reciprocal agreement law that allows people from other states to carry a handgun in Oklahoma if they're authorized to do so in their home state.

Belinda Barker of Moore, who wore a 19th Century dress and an empty holster on her hip, was among dozens of supporters of the bill who packed into a standing-room-only hearing room on Thursday. She said the concerns of opponents about a lack of training are overblown.

"Most people are still going to get training," she said.

Christine Jackson of the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action said she hopes Stitt will consider that most Oklahomans support background checks and training for those carrying in public.

"It's disheartening that we have to fight against this again," said Jackson, who became involved in the gun safety movement after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 students, six staff members, the shooter's mother and shooter himself dead in Connecticut. "The majority of Oklahomans don't want this legislation."


This story has been corrected to show the vote was 9-2, not 7-2.