The Oklahoma legislature is sending a constitutional amendment to the people for a vote in November that’s meant to clarify and strengthen the right to keep and bear arms. The desire and need for such clarification is understandable. The current Article II, Section 26, reads . . .
“The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.”
You can see the problem. It’s that last phrase, “…but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.” It gives the legislature a blank check to do what they want, including a ban on the carrying of firearms. Historically, when legislators have this power at their disposal, they use it. As an example, carrying firearms was in almost all cases illegal in Kansas for most of the last hundred years.
The replacement of Article II, Section 26, that will be coming up for a vote in November, reads thus:
A. The fundamental right of a each individual citizen to keep and to bear (that is, to carry) arms, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives, nonlethal defensive weapons and other arms in common use, as well as ammunition and the components of arms and ammunition, for security, self-defense, lawful hunting and recreation, in aid of the civil power, when thereunto lawfully summoned, or for any other legitimate purpose shall not be infringed. Regulation of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.
B. This section shall not prevent the Legislature from prohibiting the possession of arms by convicted felons, those adjudicated as mentally incompetent, or those who have been involuntarily committed in any mental institution.
C. No law shall impose registration or special taxation upon the keeping of arms, including the acquisition, ownership, possession, or transfer of arms, ammunition, or the components of arms or ammunition.
Similar clarifying language has been enacted in other states, Louisiana being the most recent. When presented to the people, such amendments typically pass with about three quarters of the vote. I predict that the Oklahoma amendment will get north of that. In Wisconsin, the constitutional amendment passed in 1998 with 74% of the vote. In Kansas, such an amendment got 88% of the vote in 2010. In Louisiana, Amendment 2 passed with 74% of the vote in 2012.
While activist courts may work to water down the effects of such amendments, the public is more engaged in Second Amendment issues than in many others. In Wisconsin, when the state supreme court ruled that section 25, even though a fundamental right, was subject to “reasonable regulation”, the state elected the Scott Walker administration, which passed one of the least restrictive shall issue laws in the nation, Act 35. The passage of a concealed carry law was a core issue in the campaign.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.