Don Spencer OK2A Oklahoma Gun Rights
Don Spencer, left, the president of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, speaks to state Sen. Kevin Matthews after a meeting at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, in Oklahoma City. The pro-firearms association was little-known a decade ago but has grown into a formidable political player at the state Capitol. (AP Photo by Sean Murphy_File)
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By Sean Murphy, AP

Wayne Shaw seemed to have all the conservative credentials needed to win reelection to his state Senate seat in Oklahoma two years ago. The mild-mannered pastor with deep ties to the community had a solidly conservative voting record during his eight years in office.

But when Shaw, as chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, declined to hear a bill to allow people to carry guns into bars, he drew the ire of an unemployed truck driver who was passionate about gun rights.

The angry gun advocate, Don Spencer, belonged to a local pro-firearms group. In short order, he and his friends recruited a Republican challenger for Shaw, held a fundraiser in his district and helped defeat the incumbent in the primary.

“I’m not opposed to guns,” said Shaw, who was stunned by the development. “But that (guns in bars) is a good way of throwing gasoline on a fire.”

Spencer’s feat is an example of a phenomenon in red states where the Republican Party is moving farther and farther to the right: The most potent political forces aren’t always the long-established organizations that have groomed candidates and advanced legislation for decades. In the current climate, little-known outsiders, even without pedigree or money, can become powerbrokers quickly if connected to incendiary issues like guns or abortion. And almost any officeholder can become vulnerable.

Few at the Oklahoma State Capitol had even heard of Spencer when he started advocating for pro-gun laws, but now he’s a formidable presence in the building. The 62-year-old from Meridian, a small town about 40 miles from Oklahoma City, is warmly welcomed by senior Republicans, and he often sets up camp in legislators’ offices and helps draft legislation.

At bill signing ceremonies, Spencer can often be seen flashing a smile among the lawmakers flanking the governor. Political hopefuls seek him out, and he gives them a seven-page questionnaire to fill out to determine whether they might receive an endorsement.

In the five years since Spencer took over the group, the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association has grown from a handful of chapters to more than 50, set up its own political action committee and begun branching out into other right-wing causes, like stopping vaccine mandates and limiting discussions of race in schools.

Spencer sees the opportunities as boundless. “People in this state are concerned about their rights, and they realize now it’s more important what’s going on in their backyard than what those crazies are doing in Washington, D.C.,” Spencer said in an interview.

The push to expand gun rights comes amid a surge in gun violence in communities across the country, including several mass shootings in recent weeks. Between 2019 and 2020, the last year for which federal data is available, shooting deaths increased 35%. Yet calls for tougher firearms limits have been blocked by GOP opposition, with leaders instead citing an even greater need for citizens to protect themselves.

Fear that government will threaten conservative values is running strong in red states right now, said Michael Crespin, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma who is familiar with the OK2A group.

“There’s this whole idea that Democrats are going to come and take their guns away,” Crespin said. “That’s not happening,” but “that fear is a good motivator for politics.”

OK2A racked up its broadest achievement in 2018 when lawmakers passed constitutional carry legislation which allows adults to openly carry firearms in public without a license or training. The bill had previously been vetoed by a Republican governor, Mary Fallin, but it was the first one signed into law by new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt.

This year the group is pushing to allow people to carry guns on college campuses, at sporting events and at county and state fairs, despite opposition from pro-business groups like chambers of commerce.

While Republican politics had been moving rightward already, the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the role of conservative interest groups, buoyed by resistance to health restrictions. Even meetings in thinly populated rural counties can draw more than 50 people, with hundreds more tuned into livestreams online.

Fundraising is rising sharply. OK2A raised nearly $40,000 in 2019, $83,000 in 2020 and more than $122,000 last year, according to state campaign finance data. Much of the money is spent on online ads and for booths at gun shows. Records show Spencer has started drawing a salary, about $30,000 each of the last two years.

“They do have influence out there, especially in Republican primaries,” said Gary Jones, former chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party. “Where they have their greatest success is low-turnout races where they can mobilize and turn out a bigger percentage of their supporters.”

Tensions sometimes flare between OK2A and the party’s established leaders. When the leader of the Senate expressed concerns last year over a bill designed to protect Oklahoma from “federal overreach,” Spencer called for him to step down and quickly summoned almost 1,000 people to the Capitol to protest.

Don Spencer
Don Spencer (courtesy

Earlier this year, a Senate Republican, Lonnie Paxton, complained that Spencer went too far when he declared at a rally, “We win at the ballot box so we don’t have to go to the ammo box.”

Noting the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was fueled by anti-government rhetoric, Paxton said the remark “crossed every conceivable line of decency.”

Spencer brushed off the complaint, saying it only helped his fundraising.

Republican candidates and officeholders regularly ask to speak to the group’s chapter meetings, with speeches typically including a healthy dose of fiery anti-government rhetoric.

At a recent meeting at an Oklahoma City firearms store, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Tulsa preacher Jackson Lahmeyer, derided Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, as a “mass murderer.” Another Republican candidate offered raffle entries starting at $25 for four custom-built AR-15s and a .50-caliber rifle.

At the Capitol, members ask Spencer about new bills to introduce.

“On a firearms issue, he’d be the first stop to go to,” said Rep. Eric Roberts, a Republican from Oklahoma City.

A leading Democrat, Rep. Emily Virgin, said she’s concerned the group’s power is becoming dangerous.

“This really has just turned into a far-right extremist organization, and the fact that so many Republicans in the House and Senate seem to take their cues from that organization is what is most concerning,” she said.

But Winona Heltzel, a group member from the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, said she joined because she thinks the group can help prevent gun confiscation.

“I know everybody talks about the government, but I’m worried about criminals,” Heltzel said.

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  1. Looks like this guy in OK and his organization are doing good things.

    Watch out that the organization doesn’t become a cult of personality and serve it’s own, or it’s leader interest instead of the interests of OK gun owners.

    Kim Stolfer and FOAC here in PA did yeoman’s for almost 2 decades, and I still have great respect for him and the organization. But for some years now he has been freezing out others and trying to control and limit the things we try to accomplish. It’s his way or the high way. And he has put his foot in his mouth multiple times with FUDD style actions or statements.

    Most recently he got into a mess with a supplier of 80% kits and a gun show operator. Kim sided with our anti gun D AG and got the gun show to ban 80% kits. It was a big deal in PA, and when the smoke cleared the 80% kits were back in the shows and the 80% supplier had bought the shows from the previous promoter.

    Kim/FOAC have also refused to support 2A sanctuary on the county or municipal level.

    In previous years Kim/FOAC have alienated the membership of the largest firearms forum in PA by trying to force politically active gun owners here to support and push for the things he is focused on and not on what they wanted. As far back as 2008 he cut the legs out of the knife rights/switchblade legalization movement here because it wasn’t part of his agenda.

    • “But for some years now he has been freezing out others and trying to control and limit the things we try to accomplish. It’s his way or the high way.”

      Can Stolfer be “a thing” if the membership objects…by dropping membership?

      In the end, we are individually responsible for what happens. It is simply human nature to remain tethered to a group if one benefits, regardless of overall decline in the vision of the group.

      No group depending on donations and membership dues can survive without donations, or membership dues.

      • I’ve been waiting for the NRA to feel that kind of pain for years but someone has been feeding them cash. That jackass Wayne is still there and amazingly voted in again!

        • “I’ve been waiting for the NRA to feel that kind of pain for years but someone has been feeding them cash.”

          That’s because people who keep Wayne in power receive some sort of perceived benefit that is worth suffering Wayne and his minions. People actually do continue activities that are rewarding, and discontinue activities that hurt them.

          Is a substandard tool better than no tool at all? Maybe. Is “I believe in the Second Amendment, but…” better than “I don’t believe in the Second Amendment at all.”?

          All life is a compromise with reality.

        • @Sam I Am
          “All life is a compromise with reality.”
          As a TSRA member currently saying no to the NRA, I agree.

        • I was paying for three annual NRA memberships (my two sons and myself) before the org was exposed. Stopped IMMEDIATELY!
          Almost purchased three lifetime memberships, glad I didn’t.

          I still get unsolicited mail from them…..right in the garbage!

        • One reason is that there are a number of ranges across the country that require membership in the NRA as a condition of membership at the range. That’s the only reason I joined the NRA recently. I would have looked for a different group otherwise. I will try to get my home range to relax the requirement by permitting memberships in alternate organizations.

  2. Ha haw! ILLannoy there’s only ONE guy I back for governor. Darrin Bailey. Belongs to GunsSaveLife,Void the FOID champ,Christian and an actual conservative.

    • Yep, I despise the ones that talk a good line but refuse to support limiting the power of the feds to infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

      I expect Republicans in DC to remove silencers and SBRs from the NFA…they could do so in reconciliation next year and dare the senile guy (assuming he hasn’t died of old age) not to sign it.

      • A little off topic but it reminds me of all the dems and repubs alike that said when elected I promise to move our embassy to Jerusalem the true capital of Israel. Then when President Trump does it they whine and cry about it. It’s like don’t you assholes realize we have audio and video of you clowns promising the exact same thing? Be man enough to face me when stabbing me. Don’t stab me in the back like a cowardly RINO.

        • The last thing any politician or activist wants is to deliver on their rhetoric. They’d be out of a job. Prolonging the issues keeps the money train rolling.

      • ‘I expect Republicans in DC to remove silencers and SBRs from the NFA’

        I was hoping it would get done before the hair sniffer became POTUS.

        I’m waiting on a tax stamp, will be starting the process on another soon. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

    • RINO Bush Sr. = Banned imports of scary rifle kits and parts.
      RINO Bush Jr. = After AWB expired said “Send me the (A New AWB) bill and I will sign it”.
      No More Bush’s, ever.

    • The Republican Party differs from the Dimocrat Party only in that they claim to want to go to hell more slowly than the Leftist/fascists. The Republicans began Trump’s term owning the House, the Senate, and the White House. So, we got National CCW Reciprocity, right? No, no we didn’t. So, we got the execrable NFA repealed, amirite?? Nope. Republicans talk a lot of BS about individual liberty, but none of them give it anything more than lip service (and I expressly include Cruz and Paul in that statement).

      I will often vote for a Republican . . . if the alternative is to vote for a Leftist/fascist Dimcrat. Holding my nose while I do it. If only the “Libertarian” Party could purge itself of the idiots like Evan McMuffin, and actually support LIBERTY, I’d be all in. It’s like when Bill Maher used to CLAIM to be a “libertarian” . . . until one of his guests called him out on it. “Bill, being ‘libertarian’ means more than just ‘Oh boy! I get to smoke dope and f*** whoever I want!!”. Maher shortly thereafter stopped claiming ‘libertarian’ status. “Libertarian” does not mean “libertine”. You can be “libertarian” and still have standards – they’re just YOUR standards.

      • “If only the “Libertarian” Party could purge itself of the idiots like Evan McMuffin, and actually support LIBERTY…”

        Sorry to be blunt, but
        “Somewhere over the rainbow
        Skies are blue
        And the dreams that you dare to dream
        Really do come true”

        The third-party dream remains the best Dimwitocrat swindle they gots (next to the ability to suddenly find boxes and boxes of uncounted Dim-only voting ballots)

  3. As a member of OK2A, I’ll vouch for both their effectiveness and tenacity. Don Spencer watches legislative developments carefully, and one of his text messages (to those who have signed up to receive them) can generate many hundreds of targeted call to legislators within hours.

  4. Years ago I went into a bar ” The Knotty Pine” they had a big sign at the bar, Check Your Guns, it was a large cardboard box that everyone put their firegunms in. I thought that was kinda neat and it was cool to see what everyone was packing. The standout was an old SAA.
    Sadly those cowboy days are over.

  5. When a Dim calls you or your group “extremist”, take it as a compliment. It means you’re being effective at stopping their agenda.

    • It’s about all they have, name calling. Their policies don’t hold up to any form of scrutiny to people who are actually paying attention.

    • watch out for “extremist” w.o.k.e. whackey,onerous, koo-koo, extremists. either you beleave in the constitution or you don’t it is written. nothing else needs to be talked about.

  6. “I know everybody talks about the government, but I’m worried about criminals,”

    That’s odd, so are the people “talking about the government”.

    • strych9,

      I often wonder why “government” and “criminal” are different words . . . and then I remember that there are some poor unfortunates who pursue criminality who DON’T suck off the public teat. So, I guess two words for these two classes of scum is appropriate.

  7. Little by little, the RINOs are being smoked out and flanked like this. Start playing hardball in red states and see what can happen.

    Look at what we finally were able to do in Texas last year. Once we were able to clear out the roadblock posed by decades of RINO house speakers, it was made very clear that any Texas state Senator or GOP leader who blocked the train *would* be primaried. Guess what — they all fell into line, and we got everything we wanted.

    Not coincidentally, this was also after the longtime “go slow” lobbyist for TSRA / apologist for the RINOs (Alice Tripp) retired, and the new hands for TSRA, GOA, etc., made it clear that they were ready to start playing hardball.

    Biggest chance now is Florida. If DeSantis will play the same kind of hardball with constitutional carry and other 2A issues as he just did with Disney, it will happen.

    Let’s hope that he does.

    • What Texas do you live in? We had a pretty bad RINO speaker last session and NOTHING the Republican pary convention voted on as high priority were even discussed on the House floor. Then when Abbott called for special sessions NONE of his priorities (the only ones they can vote on in the special session) were party priorities. He caved to pressure in the last special session but they still didn’t pass very many of the party priorities. Then he refused to call another special session to actually discuss those priority items. That’s why we still have property taxes and tax money is still used to hire lobbyists who lobby for leftist priorities, just to name two.

  8. “I know everybody talks about the government, but I’m worried about criminals,” Heltzel said.

    Dear lady, they are one and the same.

    • No, Ralph, they’re not . . . criminals don’t use the mechanisms of “government” to extort money from us to fund them. “Government” does. I have more respect for outright criminals than I do for “government employees”.

      • “I have more respect for outright criminals than I do for “government employees”.”

        Then, you need to git chure mind right. Thirty days in the box will help you better understand.

  9. Its pure insanity to allow guns in bars. Young naked apes all drunked up on hard liquor are just looking for a fight and often fight over half naked women who add fuel to an already dangerous situation. Some females even provoke fights between rival male naked apes because it sexually excites them. As a young man I saw plenty of such fights in bars and not with just fists by with knives and guns.

    Next to being in a burning house being in a bar is the next most dangerous place on earth in Capitalvania. And any loud mouth that would deny this truth is just a damn liar.

    An armed society is not a polite society.

    • OTOH, dacian the stupid, I wouldn’t be comfortable around you carrying a gun if you were stone cold sober (assuming that situation has ever existed).

      Your disdain for your . . . damn. I almost typed “fellow humans”, and then pulled myself up and realized that you only ASPIRE to being human. Haven’t gotten there, yet. Our species is “homo sapiens”. You certainly miss the “sapiens” part.

      We know you despise the human race . . . and we simply don’t give a flying f***. You are too stupid to breathe. Toddle off to your afternoon circle jerk; the adults are trying to have a conversation.

    • When weapons in bars are prohibited the killers pack heat in defiance of their little rule, confident that their intended or potential victim is unarmed.

  10. “Hate to say but the TTAG contributor sounds like he is also a contibutor to CNN or MSNBC.”

    The contributor is presenting AP reporting. The headline sets the table.

  11. “There’s this whole idea that Democrats are going to come and take their guns away,” Crespin said. “That’s not happening,” but “that fear is a good motivator for politics.”

    It’s not happening because the sleeping giant (American people) is awaking and stopping every attempt the Democrat Party tries to pass their anti firearm agendas!!!

  12. The dems have become the party of the far right. They got there in reverse. They went so far to the left they popped up on the far right. They make the klan and proud boys look like centrists.

    They are the new fascists.

    • jwm,

      FWIW, I find the more useful distinction not to be “left” or “right”, but “authoritarian” and “libertarian”. Yes, MOST Dimocrats are Leftist/fascists . . . but MOST Republicans are only slightly less authoritarian. Sure, I’ll vote for a Republican, sometimes, if my only alternative is to vote for a “Dimocrat” Leftist/fascist (which is usually the sad choice I am faced with). We need a party that actually supports individual liberty. Wish we had one.

  13. Spencer and OK2A are doing fine work advancing gun rights. However, it would be a strategic error to dilute their effectiveness on that issue by straying into other issues that have nothing to do with guns. The last thing they want a potential supporter to ask himself is which matters more to him, his gun rights or some non-gun issue on which he disagrees with OK2A.

    MADD, the anti-drunk-driving organization, started out pressuring judges not to go easy on drunk drivers. I support that. Unfortunately, they weren’t smart enough to stay in their lane. When Congress debated repealing the 55 mph national speed limit, MADD lined up with other safety groups to oppose repeal. I supported repeal. I no longer have much respect for MADD. They have degenerated into one more of the many Washington special interest lobbying organizations scratching each others’ backs.

    • Abolish speed limits on freeways between metro areas. The drivers of 700 hp Hellcats and pickups will soon eliminate themselves.
      A few innocents will be killed but that’s happening anyways.

  14. Maybe us dumb OKIES knnow that the increase in shooings is due to our borders being open and virtually unguarded so the cartels and other terrorist groups have free access to our country. When they publih the names of the shooters, robbers, and drive-bys on TV or in the papers, They are never “george” “david” or common names used in the US, but usually of Mexican origin. The rest of keep our guns to protect us from them.

  15. The fact that the C of C opposed this org makes me want to support it.

    Also, “Emily Virgin”: Keep those insults coming. They only help us.

  16. “In the five years since Spencer took over the group, the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association has grown from a handful of chapters to more than 50, set up its own political action committee and begun branching out into other right-wing causes, like stopping vaccine mandates and limiting discussions of race in schools.”

    “…limiting discussions of race in schools” is not what banning Critical Race Theory does, and shame on you for parroting that far left talking point. If you knew anything about CRT, and why the far left wants to indoctrinate your child into believing it, you would by vehemently opposed to letting it into schools as well.

  17. “Michael Crespin, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma…
    ‘There’s this whole idea that Democrats are going to come and take their guns away,’ Crespin said. ‘That’s not happening,’…”

    Even in OK, the PolySci (and probably most of the rest of the faculty) are either liars, or don’t realize their own blindspot because they’re immersed in the faculty lounge paradigm. The Resident makes statements about banning “assault weapons” and it doesn’t register that it’s a Democrat trying to “take their guns away”. It doesn’t count, after all, those are dangerous, not like Elmer’s double barrel 12ga.

    Defund the Universities!

  18. It seems the LEFT WOKEs have awakened a sleeping giant withe all their family & freedom canceling. Now they can’t stand the heat & wrath of truth loving, morality loving people! Guess the LEFT will have to nurse their wounds in their safe spaces. 🙂

  19. Sevral states have had “college carry” for years. When each of them proposed it anti-gunners wailed “BLOOD ON THE STREETS!” and leftist propagandist… oops professors said they would quit out of fear that they’d be shot by a mad gun carrying student or that free and open discussion couldn’t take place for the same reason. Guess what! NONE of that happened! Law abiding gun owners are exactly that. . law abiding. They commit fewer crimes than police officers who, themselves, commit far fewer crimes than the general population. I can’t remember a single case where a legally armed student shot anyone (except one who accidentally shot himself in the leg.)


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