By Alyssa Sperrazza
Freshman lawmaker Jay Steagall is happy Gov. Kevin Stitt kept his word to sign a controversial Constitutional Carry law.
Steagall, R-Yukon, co-authored House Bill 2597, which allows Oklahomans 21 and older to carry a firearm without training or a permit. Previously, gun owners were forced to receive training before owning a firearm.
This is the first bill Steagall has co-authored and been signed into law. Steagall spent 22 years in the U.S. Air Force and was deployed numerous times.
“I’m very proud of our governor for signing this bill,” Steagall said. “I know he made several promises on the campaign that this was something he’d do so I’m proud of him for keeping his word on that. I think it speaks to his desire to what the people of the state want. I think it speaks a lot to his character. I’m also proud to have been on the team that was part of carrying that bill through legislation.
“I’d like to recognize House Majority Floor Leader John Echols and his efforts to make sure this got seen on the floor early on in the session. And Sen. Kim David for picking it up on the Senate side and running with it over there. There were several of us that jumped on as co-authors on this bill because we are strong supporters of our Second Amendment rights and we want to ensure that our constitutionally protected rights stay protected. So proud to be a part of that.”
The bill will permit those over the age of 21 to carry a firearm without a permit. Veterans, reservists or active duty military members age 18 or older will be allowed to carry without a permit. Felons, those convicted of domestic violence or anyone adjudicated as having a mental illness will still not be permitted to carry a firearm.
The bill will maintain current protections given to property owners to prohibit firearms being carried and colleges and universities will still be allowed to set their own policies regarding firearms on campus.
Stitt said at the signage ceremony Wednesday that he does not think this bill will result in an increase in violence.
“As I traveled all over the state to all 77 counties, I heard from Oklahomans all over that they wanted us to protect their right to bear arms,” Stitt said. “I think the best defense for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Stitt said.
But that concern over increase in violence is something several legislators and activists groups have brought up. Amidst a decade plus of mass shootings in the United States, there has been a rise in people asking for stricter gun control. The bill, which several other states have passed similarly, seems to do the opposite.
A second March for Our Lives rally is already planned to be held at the state Capitol March 23. This rally’s event Facebook page already has more than 500 interested in attending and the page says the rally is meant “to demand common sense gun laws from our legislators.”
It’s not clear yet whether or not this new law will be part of that discussion.
The new law will go into effect until Nov. 1.