Randy Krehbiel and Rhett Morgan
Responses from Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, local law enforcement officials and area firearms businesses to President Barack Obama’s gun control proposal varied Wednesday but were generally negative, with 2nd District U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin sounding particularly outraged.
“The president is politicizing a national tragedy to impose his own personal agenda,” Mullin said in a written statement.
“This is outrageous and an outright assault on civil liberties. I strongly oppose restricting the rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms and will do everything I can to protect our Second Amendment rights,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the delegation’s senior member, was more restrained in his analysis.
“What people need to understand about today’s announcement is that it involved two very distinct actions by the president: 1) executives actions that the president will be implementing unilaterally, and 2) making recommendations to Congress for laws that it should pass,” Inhofe said, also in a written statement.
"While we mourn with those who have lost loved ones, in no way should the actions of those few who act illegally impact the constitutional rights of the many. I will continue to strongly oppose any effort to undermine the Second Amendment and an individual citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.”
— Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
“I would welcome the opportunity to debate these issues on the floor of the Senate Members of Congress and the American people have a right to know where members stand on these key policies. If members can’t defend their positions, they don’t deserve to be here.”
— Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
“In Oklahoma there are many law—abiding citizens who hunt, fish and keep guns for self—protection. The last thing we need to do is infringe upon the rights of those citizens. Criminals who chose to break the law will not be deterred by any number of executive actions.”
— Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.
“I will oppose any legislation to limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, including a ban on so-called assault weapons.”
— Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.
“President Obama’s announcement that his administration will be using executive actions to implement additional gun control is deeply troubling to me. Bypassing Congress to implement stricter gun laws is not the solution to preventing violence in our country. “
— Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.
Inhofe said most of the executive orders are “common-sense changes that are within the president’s current powers to implement.”
“Where I do disagree with the president is on his recommendations for laws Congress should pass,” Inhofe said. “We know from experience that an assault weapons ban will have no meaningful effect on gun violence, as many of the changes that are implemented by such a ban are cosmetic in nature.
“Statistics demonstrate that a ban on particular weapons will not significantly decrease crime. Such a ban will, however, significantly decrease our rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said he looks forward to “a full and open debate.”
“The president is right to examine what can be done to prevent tragedies such as Sandy Hook from occurring again,” Coburn said. “I commend his effort and look forward to working with him on areas of agreement while we continue to honestly debate areas of disagreement.
“The president is right to take steps to strengthen mental health databases and reporting to the NICS system (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) so we can ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of criminals or those who are a threat to themselves or others,” Coburn continued. “In the hands of a deranged person, a clip size of one is one too many.”
But Coburn also gave more than a passing nod to gun rights enthusiasts.
“As we debate these measures, we first must ensure our constitutional rights and individual liberties, including the Second Amendment right to bear arms,” he said.
“Instead of repeating the failed policies of the past, Congress should work on thoughtful and constitutional ways to prevent unspeakable tragedies like this from happening again. The fact that almost every public mass shooting tragedy occurs in a place where guns are prohibited shows that restricting Second Amendment rights tends to disarm everyone but the assailant.”
Neither Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan nor Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz would comment on Obama’s initiative.
Joe Wanenmacher, whose twice-a-year Tulsa gun shows are said to be the largest in the world, said the proposals are “an attack on every law-abiding gun owner in America.”
Wanenmacher said the proposals “by and large will do little to prevent the incidents that we’ve experienced lately. It will only hamper the law-abiding gun owners.”
Wanenmacher said he would like Congress to explore limiting the violence in video games and improve patient access to inexpensive or free mental clinics.
“The trouble is, the mentally deranged people who are going to do the bad things are not the ones who will go to the free clinics,” Wanenmacher said. “Likewise, criminals usually steal their guns. A sign that says ‘this is a gun-free area’ will stop law-abiding citizens, but it will not stop the criminals and ones with the malicious intent.”
Eric Fuson, general manager of the 2A Shooting Center in Tulsa, said expanded background checks could garner support among gun owners.
“There’s already an extensive background check done as long as you buy the gun from a dealer,” Fuson said. “But there’s no requirement for background checks in most states for an individual selling a gun to another individual.
“We might see some of that stuff changing in the future. I can’t see most people not being OK with that.”
Talk of gun regulations has caused sales of the firearms to spike nationwide. But Fuson offered a dire scenario for firearms retailers if the purchasing pace doesn’t slow.
“This can go on only for so long before businesses start shutting down,” he said. “Let’s say you sell guns for a living, and three months after all this stuff happened, you don’t have a single gun left in your store for sale, nor can you find one to buy anywhere in the country.”
World Staff Writer Jerry Wofford contributed to this story.
President Obama’s executive orders on gun control include:
—Address legal barriers in health laws that bar some states from making available information about people who are prohibited from having guns
—Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system
—Direct the attorney general to work with other agencies to review existing laws to make sure they can identify individuals who shouldn’t have access to guns
—Give local communities the opportunity to hire up to 1,000 school resource officers and counselors
—Require federal law enforcement to trace all recovered guns
—Provide training for state and local law enforcement, first responders and school officials on how to handle active—shooter situations
Obama administration plan for curbing gun violence
Proposals for curbing gun violence announced Wednesday by President Barack Obama:
NEEDS CONGRESSIONAL ACTION:
—Requiring background checks on all gun sales. Obama said there should be exceptions for cases like certain transfers among family members and temporary transfers for hunting purposes.
—Reinstating the assault weapons ban. A 10-year ban on high-grade, military-style weapons expired in 2004.
—Renewing a 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines.
—Prohibiting the possession, transfer, manufacture and import of dangerous armor-piercing bullets.
—Senate confirmation of a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency has been run by an acting director, Todd Jones, whom Obama nominated to become director.
—New gun trafficking laws penalizing people who help criminals get guns.
—Address legal barriers in health laws that bar some states from making available information about people who are prohibited from having guns.
—Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
—Make sure that federal agencies share relevant information with the background check system.
—Direct the attorney general to work with other agencies to review existing laws to make sure they can identify individuals who shouldn’t have access to guns.
—Direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other research agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.
—Clarify that no federal law prohibits doctors or other health care providers from contacting authorities when patients threaten to use violence.
—Give local communities the opportunity to hire up to 1,000 school resource officers and counselors.
—Require federal law enforcement to trace all recovered guns.
—Propose regulations that will enable law enforcement to run complete background checks before returning firearms that have been seized.
—Direct the Justice Department to analyze information on lost and stolen guns and make that information available to law enforcement.
—Provide training for state and local law enforcement, first responders and school officials on how to handle activeshooter situations.
—Make sure every school has a comprehensive emergency management plan.
—Help ensure that young people get needed mental health treatment.
—Ensure that health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
—Encourage development of new technology to make it easier for gun owners to safely use and store their guns.
—Have the Consumer Product Safety Commission assess the need for new safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.
—Launch a national campaign about responsible gun ownership.
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365 Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395