OKLAHOMA CITY — A small group of gun rights supporters rallied outside Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s office Monday and urged her to sign legislation allowing adults to carry handguns without a permit amid growing opposition from some of the state’s top law enforcement officials.
About two dozen people – including two Republican candidates for governor – appeared outside Fallin’s office in the Oklahoma Capitol and presented members of her staff with signed cards expressing support for the “constitutional carry” bill that is already in effect in a dozen other states.
Oklahoma currently requires a license to carry a handgun openly or concealed and charges handgun license applicants a fee of up to $200 – a process that gun rights advocates said distorts the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“The state of Oklahoma, as many other states have done, has made a privilege out of a right by charging one a licensing fee to secure that right,” said McCray of Manchester, Oklahoma. “All this is to me, in my opinion, is a money grab and they’re making me pay for a privilege when it’s a right.”
“It’s a constitutional right that a person be able to defend themselves without permission from the government,” said Don Spencer of Meridian, Oklahoma, president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association.
The bill authorizes people 21 and older and military personnel who are at least 18 to legally carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, without a state-issued license or permit.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which issues handgun licenses under the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, said in a statement last week that the bill eliminates the training requirement for carrying a firearm as well as an extensive background check process that includes mental health and court records.
State bureau of investigation officials also said eliminating state handgun licenses would impact its budget, reducing revenue by $4.7 million a year due to lost application fees and forcing the elimination of as many as 60 positions.
Former state Rep. Dan Fisher, a GOP candidate for governor, said he recommends that anyone who handles firearms receive training.
“But In the end, it’s not lack of training that causes people to use guns to kill people, it’s lack of morals,” Fisher said. “When you look at what ‘s going on with the misuse of firearms, it has nothing to do with training, it’s bad guys.”
GOP gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson said he would sign the bill in spite of law enforcement’s concerns.
“It’s constitutional law,” Richardson said. “We can’t have a constitution that’s based on people’s habits.”
Fallin has not said whether she’ll sign the measure that lawmakers approved last week. The Republican has expressed support for Second Amendment rights but has vetoed other gun rights legislation in the past.