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State Lawmakers Pass "Constitutional Open Carry" Bill

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As the week in which Oklahoma lawmakers’ bills must be heard or they’re set aside wraps up, the House takes up the issue of open carry.

House members spent two hours deciding whether the only requirements to openly carry a gun should be a minimum age of 21 and no felony record — a concept sometimes referred to as "Constitutional open carry."

The Constitution, taxation, God, the Bible and crime were all part of the discussion. Ultimately, members said neither a license nor training is needed to open carry, approving House Bill 3098 on a 75–13 vote.

At one point, bill author Jeff Coody acknowledged there may be times carrying a gun without training isn’t the best idea.

"Well, it wouldn't be a very good idea to walk around with a pistol hanging out of your mouth, but you could do it," Coody said.

The bill’s sponsors declined to accept an amendment excluding people with protective orders against them, which angered Rep. Emily Virgin.

"Guns and domestic violence are one of the worst problems that we face in this state and in this country, and women die because of it every day," Virgin said. "And increasing access to guns without any training, without a background check — women will die because of that."

Rep. Cory Williams railed against the bill violating procedure when 44 of 45 sections were changed on the floor. Williams then chastised his colleagues in closing debate.

"Is the Speaker trying to kill y'all's bills today by letting us go on this thing for two hours? Can this really be the greatest priority we have in deadline week?" Williams said. "This is the thing that is going to save the State of Oklahoma?"

The House is not allowed to vote on amendments if they replace all sections of a bill. The section stating the effective date was not replaced.

If the bill becomes law, Oklahomans wishing to concealed carry will still need a license.