By Alyssa Sperrazza
After Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the controversial Constitutional Carry bill last week, sides have been drawn over whether people are comfortable with the idea that firearms can soon be purchased and owned without a permit.
Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty publicly voiced his concerns over House Bill 2597, the so-called Constitutional Carry bill, saying it’s a step in the wrong direction. Others are avid supporters of the bill, including Yukon’s Henry Israel.
Israel owns Henry’s Guns, a firearm store and range, located off Route 66. Israel said he was pleased with the passage of the bill and doesn’t think Oklahomans should have laws restricting firearms.
“Anything that restricts sales and ownership of firearms is contrary to the Second Amendment,” Israel said.
At the same time, he’s also an avid supporter of gun training and safety, mentioning his store offers such training but it should have never been a requirement when purchasing a firearm.
“We’re offering free safety classes with anything that’s purchased here,” Israel said. “We do at least one a week. We schedule them with at the convenience of the people. I think that you should be able to be familiar with a vehicle before you drive it. Now, I’m not saying you should have to take a course before you buy a firearm, but in the old days, this was done by a family. But now we don’t have family units anymore because mamma’s too busy being papa and papa’s too busy doing whatever he’s doing, so we don’t have the family unit. So, therefore, you don’t get the training of the youngsters. You don’t get the firearm training that we did taking them out hunting, fishing and whatever.”
Governor Stitt announced at the signing ceremony last week that he believes the best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. When asked if he agreed with the governor, Israel said he thought the governor’s comment was off-base.
“I think the saying itself is terrible but there’s a lot of other defenses,” Israel said. “If you give up the guns, the only people that’s gonna have guns is the bad guys. But a trained person with a firearm is a deterrent to bad.”
The new law goes into effect November 2019.
Yukon Police Chief John Corn said he doesn’t know how much of an impact this law will have on the number of firearm owners in the state, but his officers prepare for a gun in any situation and that won’t change.
“We don’t distinguish or diminish any situation because there’s always the possibility that there’s a gun present, even if it’s the officer’s gun,” Corn said. “One of the biggest things most people overlook in professional law enforcement is that we’ve always been very suspicious because of the nature of our job. We approach every situation that there may be a weapon on the scene. I don’t think the change in the language is going to promote a vast increase in the number of people who are carrying a weapon. I think that it will promote the number of weapons we see in vehicles, being carried in glove boxes. But as far as the number of people who are now going to clip on a pistol because they can, I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”
Corn pointed out that those who carry a firearm will still require a permit if traveling over state lines.
“They may still need the card so there may be some cases where an individual who maybe travels a lot and carries a firearm will still need to obtain one of the cards under the old process,” Corn said. “But a state resident that doesn’t have any plans to carry outside of the state, they wouldn’t be required to go through safety class and training.”
Corn said as firearm laws have continued to change over the years, officers have been required to keep up with the law, diligently aware of their limitations and of owners’ rights.
“The department officers are very well educated on what the guidelines are and the standards of the statues,” Corn said. “How and what information officers are entitled to require from a person and what the limitations are in questioning them, etc. We got very vigilant when everything was originally introduced with the first state statute came out about concealed carry. We’ll be diligent again, the fact that we know there may be an increase in the number of people that are armed. Until we get further into the process and the statute has taken effect, we’ll know what the true outcome has been.”