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Senate panel amends, passes open carry bill
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Senate panel amends, passes open carry bill

Senate panel amends, passes open carry bill
Photo Credit: Shelby Travis

Senate panel amends, passes open carry bill

Requirements for people who want to openly carry guns in Oklahoma were changed Thursday in one of two bills in the state Legislature to make it mandatory to have proof of training but not a firearm license.

The changes passed by the Senate Public Safety Committee would require those who want to carry guns in public to have a document showing they had instruction on the law and firearms training.

The new requirements were offered as an amendment to a bill that already passed the House and would require a person to have a license to carry a handgun, either concealed or openly.

Sen. Steve Russell, who sponsored the amendment, said the language that changes "concealed license" to "handgun license" is a problem.

"When we convolute the two, what we're saying is you have to have a handgun license to bear arms and that is just not consistent with the Second Amendment and the intentions of our founding fathers," said Russell, R-Oklahoma City.

He said his proposal that the Senate committee passed Thursday is more clear and simple.

Sen. Greg Treat, who sponsored the bill that passed the House, attended Thursday's committee meeting. The Oklahoma City Republican wasn't optimistic about Russell's proposal's chances.

"I just don't think it will actually pass and be signed into law," Treat said.

Russell said there is precedent for the law in Arizona and New Mexico.

Sen. Constance Johnson voted against the bill, saying it could set up dangerous situations.

"Like I mentioned in the first debate with the current case of Trayvon Martin, the people laying on the ground at the end of the day won't have much to say," Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, said of the unarmed Florida teen who was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer last month in that state.

Sen. Ralph Shortey said he refuses to get a concealed carry license because he objects to requiring a license to carry guns. He said he started carrying a gun with him in his truck after a turkey attacked him while he was on an oil and gas job.

"Wait until you get attacked by a turkey, you will know the fear that a turkey can evoke in a person," said Shortey, R-Oklahoma City. "So I beat it with a club. That's all I could do. I wish that I had a gun with me."

The Senate has passed a separate bill by Sen. Anthony Sykes to allow people who have a concealed carry permit to openly carry a handgun. That bill is pending in the House.

Russell said he expects the measures will go to a conference committee for the final language to be decided.

"What I'm suggesting is that we use this vehicle to broaden and have the discussions so that we get the best open carry measure before the governor," he said.

Copyright The Associated Press

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