A strong right to keep and bear arms amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution was killed by the Republican leadership at the last minute. They did this by running out the clock in the conference committee, by not voting on HJR 1009. The clock ran out on May 19th. The tactics were similar to what was done in 2014. This year the measure was passed with overwhelming votes in both the House and the Senate. It passed the House 66-7. It passed the Senate 39 to 7…by 90% and 85% respectively. Obviously, the measure was wildly popular. Then special interest lobbyists got involved. Backroom deals may have been struck. Several members of the conference committee subsequently decided to oppose the measure, after voting for it twice.
Several Republican members of the House Rules Committee (which is the House side of the Conference Committee for HJR1009) that previously voted for HJR1009 – most of them twice – and have even signed on as co-authors of the measure, have suddenly flip-flopped on the issue. One of them even seemed to get a kick out of the possibility of killing it. Are you angry yet? Republicans laughing about trampling on your right to keep and bear arms while following marching orders from a liberal, New York, gun-grabber lobbying against your natural right to protect yourself – that should make every pro-gun Oklahoman livid!
Oklahoma’s current right to keep and bear arms amendment was weak to begin with and has been rendered toothless by Oklahoma Supreme Court decisions.
Here is the current version:
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 “but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.” With that clause, the court has ruled that the “bear arms” part of Section 26 is a legal nullity.
Here is the reform; underlined words are new, lined through words are removed:
The fundamental right of a each individual
4 citizen to keep and to bear arms in defense of his home, person, or
5 property, or, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives,
6 nonlethal defensive weapons and other arms in common use, as well as
7 ammunition and the components of arms and ammunition, for security,
8 self-defense, lawful hunting and recreation, in aid of the civil
9 power, when thereunto legally lawfully summoned, or for any other
10 legitimate purpose shall never not be prohibited; but nothing herein
11 contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying
12 of weapons infringed. Any regulation of this right shall be subject
13 to strict scrutiny.
This section shall not prevent the Legislature from
15 prohibiting the possession of arms by convicted felons, those
16 adjudicated as mentally incompetent or those who have been
17 involuntarily committed in any mental institution.
No law shall impose registration or special taxation upon
19 the keeping of arms, including the acquisition, ownership,
20 possession or the transfer of arms, ammunition or the components of
21 arms or ammunition
Reformed Constitutional amendments protecting the right to keep and bear arms have been wildly popular with voters. The difficulty is getting them on the ballot. In 2014, the Oklahoma amendment passed both houses in slightly different versions. It was then scuttled in the conference committee between the House and the Senate.
Alabama passed a similar amendment in 2014 with 72% of the vote; Missouri had strengthened its Constitution just months before with 61%; Louisiana in 2012 with 74% of the vote; and Kansas in 2010 with 88%. Wisconsin voters protected their rights with a strong amendment in 1998 with 74% of the vote.
Wisconsin had one of the most difficult paths. Constitutional amendments there must pass the legislature twice, with an election in between. Then they are put before the people in a referendum.
The legislature has not yet learned that playing these games is no longer a safe way to kill measures politicians publicly support, but secretly conspire to kill. Perhaps ok2A-action.org will determine just who the responsible parties are, and find a way to hold them accountable. This amendment will probably eventually make it to Sooner State voters, but it will depend on grass roots support to make it happen.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.