Harmful gun legislation vetoed by Gov. Fallin
The elected officials who create laws at the State Capitol represent a variety of Oklahomans from different backgrounds and viewpoints. When faced with a particularly polarizing issue, finding solutions that meet everyone’s needs can seem impossible.
Oklahoma faced a similar challenge when bills to expand gun rights but negatively impact business owners’ rights were introduced in recent years. Some bills, for example, would allow guns to be carried into event venues – something that is contractually forbidden by most high-economic impact events. Other bills would have allowed guns in hospitals or on college campuses. While the Chamber and other organizations support the responsible expansion of gun rights, Oklahomans for Business and Property Owners’ Rights was formed in response to bills that went beyond that scope.
The 2018 legislative session began with 83 bills to expand gun rights in Oklahoma. Only one bill opposed by the coalition was passed by the Legislature: SB 1212. SB 1212 was introduced as a bill relating only to wildlife and refuge areas but was amended in late April to allow permitless carry of a loaded gun in public. It was passed by the House on April 25 and by the Senate on May 2 without receiving a committee hearing in either chamber. Not only did the manner in which SB 1212 was passed give cause for concern, but the bill itself would have negatively impacted the rights of business and property owners, but also made it easier for untrained, dangerous individuals to carry loaded handguns in public.
Because of the many concerns with this bill, the Chamber and other members of the Oklahomans for Business and Property Owners’ Rights coalition requested that Gov. Fallin veto this harmful legislation, which she did on May 11.
“We have to join together because not one organization, on their own, would have the ability to educate all 149 members of the legislature in the swift and rapid manner that the coalition does on the dangers of certain weapon bills,” said Patrick J. Hall, who represents Oklahoma State Medical Association on the coalition.
Despite the differences between the groups that came to the table, they all focus on common goals: to protect economic development opportunities, public safety and law enforcement.
“The strength of working with a coalition is the ability to bring together what I call ‘odd couples’ – advocates and entities who may be surprised to learn of their common values on a particular topic,” said Anne Roberts, director of legislative affairs with INTEGRIS Health. “The Chamber’s approach allows these diverse groups to stand together on an otherwise polarizing issue and speak with one voice.”