The first bill Gov. Kevin Stitt signed after being sworn into office was the constitutional carry bill. House Bill 2597 allows law-abiding citizens to carry a gun without a permit or training. “The best defense from a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Stitt said at the signing. Oklahoma is the 16th state to pass constitutional carry. The new law is scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1.

State Rep. Jason Lowe, (D-OKC) is attempting to get the law repealed. Lowe and his supporters are currently circulating 4,000 petitions across the state, hoping to get 60,000 signatures. If they are successful, they would get the issue on the 2020 ballot as a state question. Their deadline to get the signatures is Thursday, Aug. 29.

“I just couldn’t stand aside and not do anything. I had to take a stand at that point in time. People in the state of Oklahoma can decide whether this is a good law or not,” Lowe said.

Two thoughts regarding permitless carry — one positive, one negative:

First, permitless carry (HB 2597) will have no effect on current background checks when purchasing a gun. They will still be done. The state will continue to do the checks as required by federal law. The restrictions on felons will continue as well. You still can’t carry on private property unless the owner gives permission. You still can’t carry in a government building or school. The major change is state government will no longer be charging a fee for a license to carry a weapon or to exercise your Second Amendment rights.

Second, reciprocity could become an issue. Oklahoma honors the laws of other states that allow concealed carry, open carry and constitutional carry, but not all states do. Without a permit, Sooners could be in violation of the law in those states. Those that travel in states (truckers) that don’t reciprocate with states without permits could find this to be inconvenient.

The permitless bill aligns with the U.S. Constitution. It gets state government out of the business of granting rights already guaranteed in the Constitution. It reaffirms the right of honest, law abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families. Liberals will never agree with individual gun ownership. They believe only the government should have weapons, but the founders put the Second Amendment into the document to protect citizens from their government. Gun owners should responsibly exercise that right, using good judgment and discernment. Using a weapon to scare or intimidate people is a misuse of liberty. Using a weapon to defend one’s person or property is legitimate.

If approached to sign the petition to place the issue on the ballot, politely decline to autograph. It is highly unlikely the group can get 60,000 people in conservative Oklahoma to endorse the petition, but you never know.

Steve Fair is chairman of the 4th District of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He can be reached by phone at 580.252.6284 or by email at okgop@aol.com. His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com.

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