With questions and concerns circulating regarding potential federal legislation on firearms regulation, local legislators have come out overwhelmingly against any across-the-board laws and mandates.
“I absolutely believe gun issues should be determined on the local level. I would love for our schools, local law enforcement, and community leaders to have a say in our second amendment rights,” Rep. Justin Wood (R-Shawnee) said.
“I am not in favor of disarming or making it harder to obtain guns for law abiding Oklahoma residents, especially not by the hands of federal government,” he added.
Instead of using gun regulation to solve the growing issue of gun violence, Wood suggests implementing stronger anti-bullying policies and enacting a stronger mental health system.
Rep. Tom Newell (R-Seminole) questioned the legality of the federal government being able to pass such regulation.
“The Constitution only gives the federal government the ability to regulate interstate commerce,” Newell said.
He added that he would support local regulation – within reason. He said he doesn’t want to see guns in the hands of criminals, nor does he want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Any regulations would have to strike a balance, Newell said.
He said further that he believes citizens have “a right to protect themselves,” especially since police and other law enforcement cannot be everywhere at once.
Newell also questioned the logic of passing more laws to regulate criminals.
“Every time they pass another regulation they hurt law-abiding citizens,” he said, adding that criminals by definition do not follow the law.
“If they (criminals) know everyone is unarmed that gives them free reign,” Newell said.
Josh Cockroft (R-Tecumseh) also came out against federal regulations.
“There’s been a lot of fear, a lot of debate, and a lot of discussion about what could be coming down,” from the federal level, Cockroft said.
In response to this, Cockroft worked with several other state legislators to draft House Bill 2021, which exempts firearms, accessories, and ammunition made in the state of Oklahoma from federal regulations.
The measure passed the House and will move to the Senate to be voted on.
“It’s my belief that the second amendment guarantees individuals the right to bear arms,” he said. “I think the second amendment is one of the most clear provisions in the Constitution.”
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Another gun measure which recently passed the House, and was voted for by Cockroft, Wood, and Newell, is House Bill 1062. This would allow teachers to become CLEET trained and carry guns at school.
“We want to make sure we have a way to make sure students are protected,” Cockroft said.
An important aspect of this bill is that individual districts have the opportunity to decide whether or not to allow their teachers to participate – the bill does not include mandates.
“Each school has the ability to say, ‘yes, we have to put these policies in place,’ or ‘no, we don’t.’ This at least gives them the option,” Cockroft said.