Three proposals to expand Second Amendment rights in Oklahoma were voted out of committee this week and will be considered by the full House of Representatives. As a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment I am happy to see these. Still, I was struck by how people will allow emotional rhetoric to override common sense.
The first is HB 1796, which would allow citizens with a concealed carry permit to openly carry guns. For me, support of this law has more to do with practicality than a desire to show off a weapon. I’m sure that some people would be willing to carry openly. But I suspect that most of the concealed carry license holders in the state would be like me. I would still carry concealed, but I wouldn’t fret over it as much.
Currently, the law requires that I keep my firearm covered and out of public view. I am constantly aware of the pistol on my hip and take extra care to ensure it is covered. This law would ease my concerns somewhat by removing the fear that I might be cited if my pistol is accidentally exposed. Considering the fact that this is a Second Amendment issue, I would expect the bill to go before the legislature to be passed then signed by the governor.
However, the chair of the House Public Safety Committee, Rep. Sue Tibbs, R-Tulsa, has decided that passing a law to allow citizens to engage in an activity the U.S. Constitution says is a God-given right isn’t good enough. She believes that we should all vote on it.
Her reasoning? Well, as she was quoted in The Daily Oklahoman, “This bill touches every life in Oklahoma. I felt the people have the right to decide this issue.”
I’ve read this quote several times and I still don’t know what it means. Does the law require every citizen to carry guns? Does it require every person who carries a gun to make sure that every person within earshot knows they have a gun? I don’t really know the answers to those questions, but I do know a few other things.
I know that the Second Amendment is a right the men who drafted the Constitution felt was so important that they put it on paper. I know they didn’t include any provisions for suitable times and places to restrict that right and they didn’t think that our God-given rights could or should be subject to public whims via the ballot. Which right will we vote on next?
Will the First Amendment be up for grabs? Will we put the Tenth Amendment on the ballot to see if maybe folks really want the federal government to take over everything and freeze the states out? If we’re going to start voting on amendments I propose that we vote on the Sixteenth Amendment. True it’s not part of the bill of rights. But, if you want to see some voter turnout I think you couldn’t do any better than to put the income tax on the ballot.
That will never happen and neither should this vote on open carry. Open carry is part and parcel of the Second Amendment. The legislature should approve the law and allow law-abiding citizens exercise the right that has been denied them for too long.
I believe that law-abiding citizens who have given the state no reason to believe they will commit a crime should be able to carry a firearm anyplace they decide to. I can hear the howls of protest already.
“Why that’s insane,” the anti-gun zealots exclaim. “If you let people carry guns at schools or into churches or amusement parts or (gasp) airliners, they would go crazy and kill everyone.”
That’s an emotional response that may sound good, but like Tibbs’ claim that her law would affect every person in Oklahoma; it has no basis in fact. Unfortunately, it is also the philosophy driving opposition to the next two bills. Both have to do with guns in educational facilities. Neither bill would result in the problems opponents claim will arise, but that doesn’t stop the handwringing and finger wagging.
HB 1652, by Rep. John Enns R-Enid, would allow weapons on CareerTech campuses, as long as they are locked in vehicles. HB 2087 by Rep. Randy Terrill R-Cleveland, would allow members of college faculties and staffs that have concealed carry licenses to carry guns on campus. Not surprisingly educators oppose both bills and in an equally unsurprising move they are pulling out safety as their motivation.
Roger Webb, president of the University of Central Oklahoma and a reported gun owner, told The Oklahoman and allowing faculty and administrators to carry weapons would make colleges and universities dangerous places.
“Anytime you introduce more guns to a college campus we know you are going to have a more unstable condition,” he was quoted as saying. That same logic is used by those opposed to allowing gun owners to store their weapons in their cars on CareerTech campuses.
So, exactly how does Mr. Webb know the situation would be more unstable? What, if any, studies have been done that support this position?
I disagree with Mr. Webb based on the studies I’ve seen that indicate that when law-abiding citizens are armed, crime decreases. I disagree with Mr. Webb because, even though no studies specific to college campuses have been done, at least as far as I know, recent news reports seem to indicate disarming students may not be working.
For the madman bent on destruction, the only person who is safe in a gun-free zone is the guy carrying the gun. In all the school shooting incidents I have read about, those who complied with the school rules were left to cower in fear as the criminal who cares nothing for the rules killed victims at will. Mr. Webb’s ridiculous statement is reminiscent of those who opposed shall-issue concealed carry when it was introduced in Florida.
At that time people just knew, much like Mr. Webb, that if citizens were allowed to carry guns they would begin settling all disputes with gunfire. The terms “Wild West,” “Dodge City,” and “blood in the streets” were mainstays of the anti-gun fanatics. Those predictions never came true.
Perhaps one day we’ll be able to separate our emotions from this debate and see the facts for what they are. Law-abiding citizens can, and should be trusted to exercise their rights responsibly. And, punishing the law-abiding doesn’t protect them from the law breakers. It only makes them victims.
I don’t think anyone needs to vote on that.