LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - A bill that would allow any law-abiding Oklahoman to openly carry a gun without any kind of permit has passed both the state house and senate and is now awaiting the Governor's decision on whether it will become law.
The bill would make it to where anyone legally able to buy a gun, essentially meaning those above the age of 21, or 18 if they are military members, who are not convicted felons, could openly or conceal carry their guns in public without needing any kind of permit or training.
The bill's initial purpose was to allow law-abiding citizens in Oklahoma to have a way to protect themselves in public, which Carole Wilson, of Bare Arms Gun Shop says is our right.
"We're Americans. Simple, we're Americans, we have that right. Every human should have that right, to protect themselves," Wilson said.
Lawton Police Department Sergeant Timothy Jenkins agrees, saying anyone who follows the law and has a desire to own a gun, should be allowed to.
"Any law-abiding citizen should own a gun. In today's time, in today's environment, we understand people want to carry guns and owning a gun is a big deal because people want to feel safe and they want themselves and their families to be safe. We understand that is a big issue," Jenkins said.
But both Wilson and Jenkins are concerned with one part of the bill. Currently, those looking to carry their guns in public must receive training on how to use those guns. With Senate Bill 1212, that training is no longer required, though it will still be available.
"When it does go into effect, we want citizens in our community to seek training, to understand that there is training out there for you. If you want to go out there and get a gun, by all means, you're able to do that now. But in the same stance, try to get some training with that. We want you to be safe, as well as other people in the community that may not have a gun or do have a gun, we want them to be safe as well," Jenkins said.
Currently, part of the training you receive focuses on how to inform law enforcement that you have a gun on if you are pulled over or approached by an officer. Jenkins said he believes that training keeps both the public and law enforcement safe.
"If you don't have that training, you don't know what to do when you're encountered by a police officer, you don't know when is the proper time to present your weapon or when's the proper time to let the officer know you do have a permit to carry your weapon," Jenkins said.
With Senate Bill 1212, police officers will not have the right to ask about your weapon, including if you are legally allowed to own it unless they have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
If the bill is signed into law, it would go into effect November 1. Even if it is passed, there are some places you still will not be allowed to carry guns, such as school campuses, government buildings, casinos or sports arenas, unless allowed by the event holder.
OSBI STATEMENT ON SB1212:
The OSBI is concerned about the passage of Senate Bill 1212 and its impact on the safety and security of the citizens of Oklahoma.
Senate Bill 1212 allows anyone who is 21 or older (18 if military), and legally allowed to possess and purchase a firearm pursuant to state and federal law and not engaged in a crime to carry a firearm without a license, open or concealed, loaded or unloaded. It requires persons in possession of a firearm to make identification to law enforcement with violators subject to a misdemeanor conviction and a $100 fine. Without reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity, law enforcement cannot disarm or restrain anyone with a weapon, including asking individuals carrying firearms whether or not they are lawfully allowed to do so. Senate Bill 1212 makes it unlawful for anyone in the U.S. illegally to be in possession of or around firearms with violators subject to a misdemeanor conviction and a $250 fine. It authorizes o ff duty police officers to carry service weapons, personal rifles or shotguns throughout Oklahoma. Finally, it makes it lawful to carry in a wildlife refuge or management area.
Senate Bill 1212 eliminates the training requirement for persons carrying a firearm in Oklahoma.
No vetting of anyone in possession of a firearm beyond National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check, which occurs only at purchasing a firearm from a federally-authorized firearms dealer. NICS is a name-based search only.
NICS does not search the following currently included in the OSBI background check process:
• Local agency checks (mental health reports, cited and released offenders without fingerprints on file)
• Oklahoma mental health records prior to July 1, 2015
• Checks of Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) / On Demand Court Records (ODCR) for criminal cases, protective orders, etc.
• Adjudicated delinquents
< br />Existing state prohibitors are more expansive than federal. NICS does not include:
• Expanded mental health and drug conviction prohibitions
• Prohibitions for pending or deferred actions for misdemeanors involving drugs, violence and domestic abuse
• Prohibitions for individuals who abuse alcohol
• Protective orders for domestic relationships outside the federal definition (no protection for parents, siblings, roommates, etc.
NICS checks do not include state or federal Rap Back services to identify arrests after purchase. Rap Back provides ongoing status notifications of individual criminal history reported to the FBI or OSBI. Under a NICS check only, if an individual is arrested subsequent to a firearms purchase, no notifications are made which would disqualify lawful carry of a firearm. Under the current system (Rap Back), notifications are made and the OSBI begins the process of revoking Self-Defense Act (SDA) permits or disqualifying individuals from obtaining a permit. Additionally, the current SDA process suspends or revokes licenses and the ability to carry for those who have been irresponsible with a firearm (e.g. Convictions for carrying unlawfully or under the influence, reckless conduct with a firearm, furnishing firearms to felons, the mentally ill or children)
No guarantee firearms were legally purchased by the person in possession. Guns can also be acquired legally without even a NICS check through gun shows, from family, friends or other private sellers.
No way for law enforcement to distinguish lawful gun owners from unlawful gun owners and no recourse for law enforcement who encounter individuals with firearms unless caught committing a crime.
Additionally, the fiscal impact of Senate Bill 1212 on the OSBI is approximately $4.7 million. For FY18, the OSBI's budget was approximately $37 million, with only around 30% (around $11 million) from state appropriations, a number that has suffered a significant decline in the past decade. The remaining allocations of the OSBI's budget are obtained through other sources (fines, fees, federal grants etc.) of which the SDA permits are a significant portion.
The OSBI is tasked, among other responsibilities, with investigating some of the most violent crimes in Oklahoma. It has continued to function and serve its citizens through continued budget cuts, but currently has 75 vacant positions, of which 36 are currently funded and 39 are unfunded, across the agency. 75 vacant positions means the agency is currently operating at around 79% staffing level. These positions include agents-who directly investigate violent crimes, criminalists-who perform laboratory forensic analyses of violent crime evidence, and others who are directly responsible for the safety and security of Oklahoma citizens.
While the Oklahoma legislature appropriated an additional 4.52% of appropriations funding to the OSBI (approximately $536,000), this amount covers the pay raise for state employees that the legislature mandated through the passage of House Bill 1024xx.
In addition to the majority of the employees of the SDA being terminated as a direct result of the passage of Senate Bill 1212, an additional 40 to 60 positions across the agency will need to be cut by January 2019 in response. Losing an additional 60 positions, not counting the SDA positions, will bring the operational staffing of the agency to around 63%. The impact on public safety is unquantifiable-from the delay or inability to investigate violent crimes, to a backlog or inability to test sexual assault kits and homicide evidence, to delayed services in background checks of school employees-the effect will influence safety for Oklahoma citizens.