A bill in the Oklahoma Legislature that would remove licensing and training requirements for handgun owners cleared the state's House of Representatives on Wednesday with mostly Republican support.
The bill – House Bill 2597 – passed in a 70-30 vote, with all 24 Democrats in opposition along with a handful of Republicans. A similar bill passed both the House and Senate last year but was vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin over concerns from law enforcement.
“What this does is allow, as the Constitution states, that a person can carry a firearm without having to purchase that right,” Republican state Rep. Kevin West told reporters. “The Constitution clearly states that we have right to keep and bear arms.”
“What this does is allow, as the Constitution states, that a person can carry a firearm without having to purchase that right. The Constitution clearly states that we have right to keep and bear arms.”
He said the bill would benefit poor people and remove a barrier to gun ownership. If passed, background checks would still be required. Before Wednesday's session began, gun control advocates dropped off 2,400 signatures opposing the legislation.
"These are concerned moms all over the state that don’t want to take people's guns away but are very concerned for their children, their loved ones,” Lauren Van Allen, with Moms Demand Action, told FOX affiliate KOKH-TV. “They believe that if you have a gun, you should be well-trained, you should go through proper procedures just like you would with a car.”
Democrats tried portraying the bill as hypocritical and plain wrong, the Tusla World reported.
“If guns make a place safer, why wouldn’t you want to make own workplace safer?” Rep. Shane Stone asked, according to the paper.
Rep, Jon Echols argued that responsible gun owners would seek out training on their own.
The bill moves on to the Senate next. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Senate Republican Leader Greg Treat have said they both support the concept.
More than a dozen states have removed permit requirements to conceal and carry handguns. South Dakota became the latest in January, though gun owners will still be barred from carrying their weapons in the Statehouse in Pierre and other buildings.