Just hours after final legislative approval was granted, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Wednesday that will allow Oklahoma residents to carry a firearm in public with no training or license.
House Bill 2597, the so-called Constitutional Carry bill, advanced out of the Senate on Wednesday afternoon by a 40-6 vote. With Stitt’s signature, the law takes effect Nov. 1.
During a signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon, Stitt said voters across the state have told him they’re concerned about gun rights. Stitt dismissed critics’ concerns about how the bill would affect public safety.
“I think the best defense for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.
The bill allows people age 21 and older — and military service members and veterans age 18 years and older — to carry guns either concealed or unconcealed with no permit or training. As under current law, felons and those adjudicated to be mentally ill will not be allowed to carry firearms.
The bill, which was fast-tracked through the Legislature, is the first the new governor has signed into law. It was authored by majority floor leaders in both houses — Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City and Sen. Kim David R-Porter. Higher education officials and business leaders worked with lawmakers while the bill was being drafted to ensure provisions in current law that ban guns on college and university campuses and allow private property owners to prohibit guns remained in the new law.
Former Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill in May, saying the state’s existing firearms regulations were “few and reasonable.” But every candidate in last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary pledged support for permitless carry.
During Senate debate Wednesday, David said the bill merely allows law-abiding gun owners to carry firearms without a permit in areas where they could have legally carried with a permit in the past. She noted that 15 other states have already enacted similar laws.