Dozens of firearm-related bills filed by Oklahoma lawmakers seek to, among other things, expand the state’s open carry laws, expand where guns may be legally kept and expand the scope of the self-defense law.
On Feb. 14 the House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 2988 by Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. The bill gives legal authority to use deadly force against dangerous individuals at a place of worship.
Ritze said the bill was inspired by several recent cases in which violence or threats involved places of worship in the state.
In November, Edmond’s Fairview Baptist Church and pastor Paul Blair received a bomb threat after Blair went to Oklahoma City where the City Council was considering adding “gender orientation” as a protected class within city government.
Language in HB 2988 declares Oklahoma citizens “have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes, places of business, or places of worship” and it lets officials at any place of worship use defensive force in cases where there is “a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm.”
Ritze said his bill makes it clear that officials at places of worship have the right to self defense, just as Oklahoma citizens do in their homes. He said places of worship host children’s activities, provide women’s shelters and offer other services to vulnerable citizens.
Several lawmakers representing the Edmond area have filed gun-related bills. Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Edmond, said it’s an election year and he’s not surprised by the number of gun-related bills filed this year. Moore’s HB 2332 would let firearms be openly carried on private property.
Moore said he was surprised to learn that Oklahomans can legally hunt and target shoot on their own property but they are not able to legally openly carry guns on their property. The bill simply makes it legal to do so, he said.
Moore said it is his understanding HB 2332 has been consolidated by House leadership with some other gun-related bills. He said he is still optimistic about his bill’s chances, but wonders about the reason for the consolidation.
HB 2193 by Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, allows ammunition to be stored in locked cars on any property set aside for any vehicle, and related liability.
It does not make sense that people should be legally allowed to have guns in their cars but not ammunition for those guns, Murphey said.
Other gun-related topics in bills filed for the current session include the manner in which handguns may be transported onto school property, clarifying the manner in which defensive force may be used and modifying circumstances in which officials are allowed to carry a firearm.
To learn more about current gun-related bills, visit www.oklegislature.gov, the Oklahoma Legislature’s website. The session, which convened Feb. 6, is scheduled to end no later than 5 p.m. May 25.
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