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April 30, 2014

Candidates profess Second Amendment support

EDMOND — Does the federal government have a legitimate reason to limit the constitutional right of U.S. citizens to own and bear firearms? The question was asked to three candidates for U.S. Senate at a recent Oklahoma City Republican debate sponsored by the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee at Olivet Baptist Church.

“First of all, the Second Amendment is a prohibition of the federal government to infringe on our rights to keep and bear arms,” said former state Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso.

The state of Oklahoma can set rules if it wants, Brogdon said. But the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes it clear that the federal government “shall not infringe,” he said.

“We have the inherent right, given by God, to protect our family,” said Brogdon, 60.

Brogdon ran legislation in the Senate to enable university students the opportunity to conceal and carry a gun on state campuses. University presidents were successful in defeating the legislation.

Brogdon said his son recently served in the military. If his son could carry a gun into a classroom, Brogdon said he would feel more secure knowing his son could use his gun if a threat to life was imminent.

“I hear people talking about their constitutional right all the time,” said former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. “This is not a constitutional right. It is a God-given right. The Constitution only guarantees rights.”

Shannon will continue his staunch support of the Second Amendment, which earned him an A-rating from the National Rifle Association, he said.

“That philosophy guarantees all other rights of the constitution,” Shannon said of protecting self-government. He supports conceal and carry laws in Oklahoma, said Shannon, 32.

Congressman James Lankford, 46, said the Declaration of Independence speaks of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

These are inherent, basic values of the American system, Lankford said. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is relevant because people have a right to life.

“We have a weapon to protect our life and our own families,” Lankford said. “It was an extension of this basic ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’”

The right to protect one’s family has been an inherent right even before the U.S. was a nation, he said.

“This is inherent with who we are,” Lankford said.

He tells liberal congressmen and women to come to Oklahoma if they believe that gun ownership poses a risk.

“It’s one of the safest places to be and they should learn a lot from us,” Lankford said.

Oklahoma ranks 14th in average rankings across 10 measures of gun violence, according to the Center for American Progress. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii, rank 46-50, respectively, according to the study. Louisiana and Alaska rank 1-2, respectively.

Other Republican U.S. Senate candidates for the unexpired term include Jason Weger, 31, of Norman; Kevin Crow, 46, of Chickasha; Eric McCray, 33, of Tulsa; and Andy Craig, 41, of Broken Arrow.

One Independent candidate, Mark Beard, 54, of Oklahoma City is also running for the Senate seat.

The three Democrats contenders for U.S. Senate include state Sen. Connie Johnson, 61, of Oklahoma City; Patrick Hayes, 39, of Anadarko; and Jim Rogers, 79, of Midwest City.

Voters will nominate their party’s candidates on June 24 for the statewide primary election. A run-off primary election is set for Aug. 26. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.

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  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
    President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
    Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

    July 24, 2014

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