Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s signature on legislation allowing so-called “constitutional carry” of firearms without a permit by Sooner State citizens provides a stark contrast to what is happening in Washington State, where Democrats in control of the Legislature and governor’s office are trying to add layers of red tape to the state’s concealed carry statute.
Could the difference be that Stitt is a Republican, and that his party controls both the Senate and House in Oklahoma City?
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House Bill 2597, according to the Tulsa World, was the first bill that Stitt has signed as governor since taking office earlier this year. The newspaper quoted the governor, who recalled, “As I traveled all over the state to all 77 counties, I heard from Oklahomans all over that they wanted us to protect their right to bear arms.”
Oklahoma joins about 15 other states in adopting permitless carry. It’s the second state this year to adopt “constitutional carry,” the other being South Dakota, and probably by no coincidence at all, the newly-elected governor there, Kristi Noem, is also a Republican.
Meanwhile, out in Washington, two state Senate Democrats are sponsoring legislation that would bog down legally-armed citizens in bureaucratic red tape before they could renew or obtain a concealed pistol license.
Senate Bill 5174 creates a training requirement for the first time since the state created a concealed carry law back in 1935. This training requirement includes a minimum of eight hours of instruction on:
- Basic firearms safety rules
- Firearms and children including safe storage of firearms and talking to children about firearms safety
- Firearms and suicide prevention
- Safe storage of firearms to prevent unauthorized access and use
- Safe handling of firearms
- State and federal firearms laws, including prohibited firearms transfers
- State laws pertaining to the use of deadly force for self-defense
- Techniques for avoiding a criminal attack and how to manage a violent confrontation, including conflict resolution
- Live-fire shooting exercises on a firing range that include a demonstration by the applicant of safe handling of, and shooting proficiency with, each firearm that the applicant is applying to be licensed to carry
Joe Waldron, legislative director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said via e-mail that, “The intent of SSB 5174, and its House counterpart, HB 1315, is clearly to impair an individual’s right to bear arms.”
According to Article 1, Section 24 of the state constitution, the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state “shall not be impaired.”
According to the legislation, acceptable training “must be sponsored by a federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency, a college, a university, a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training, or a firearms training school with instructors certified by a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training.”
Word of this legislation is spreading across social media, and alarmed gun owners are wondering who will pay for the training, where and how often it will be offered, where the ranges are or will be located to accommodate the live-fire portion and why retraining every five years appears to be part of the mandate.
If the state makes it difficult for people to find classes, then it will effectively dry up CPL availability. There are now more than 613,000 active CPLs in the state.
Waldron’s conclusion is that the legislation, if it becomes law, will “serve no useful purpose other than to reduce that (number) significantly.