U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn said on Thursday that she had “concerns” about the gun bill signed into law this week by Gov. Kevin Stitt that would allow for firearms to be carried without a permit or training.
Horn, a Democrat who represents Oklahoma’s 5th District, said in a statement to The Frontier that the bill signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday “doesn’t make us safer.”
“I share the concerns that Oklahoma’s business and law enforcement communities have raised about unpermitted open carry,” Horn said in the statement. That policy doesn’t make us safer. It is our job as policymakers to increase safety without decreasing rights.”
Horn on Wednesday voted in favor of House Resolution 8, a sweeping gun control measure that aims to overhaul and expand the background check system for gun purchases, requiring checks on even private gun purchases. That same day Stitt signed into law a bill that would eliminate the permitting process that had been necessary for Oklahomans who wished to carry a firearm.
Dubbed either “constitutional carry” by its supporters, or “permitless carry” by its detractors, it was the first bill signed into law by Stitt since he took office in January.
“I think the best defense for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Stitt said on Wednesday.
Similar bills had failed in years past. Last year a similar bill made it to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk, but she eventually vetoed it. But Stitt wasted no time on Wednesday, signing it into law just hours after it was approved by the Oklahoma Senate. It will go into effect Nov. 1.
While Horn came out against Oklahoma’s newly-signed gun bill, some of her fellow Oklahomans in Congress were in favor of the law.
Sen. Jim Inhofe called the bill “a win for our great state” on social media, praising Stitt for “working hard for Oklahomans.”
He criticized “House Dems” for passing federal background check bills this week, saying that although they “can’t seem to understand the importance of the Second Amendment, at least Oklahoma does.”
While House Dems can't seem to understand the importance of the Second Amendment, at least Oklahoma does.
— Sen. Jim Inhofe (@JimInhofe) February 28, 2019
Rep. Kevin Hern said on Twitter that “while liberals in Congress keep trying to take away our constitutional rights, Governor Stitt is standing up for what is right in Oklahoma. I want to thank him for leading and protecting our rights.”
While liberals in Congress keep trying to take away our constitutional rights, Governor Stitt is standing up for what is right in Oklahoma. I want to thank him for leading and protecting our rights. https://t.co/E9k5hsHUaV
— Kevin Hern (@krhern) February 28, 2019
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the agency in charge of the state’s soon-to-be-removed permitting process (and the money the permit process generated) had criticized the bill last year as it sat on Fallin’s desk, saying it would make it harder to “vet” someone in possession of a firearm.
At the time, the OSBI said that if the “constitutional carry” bill was made law, there would be “no way for law enforcement to distinguish lawful gun owners from unlawful gun owners and no recourse for law enforcement who encounter individuals with firearms unless caught committing a crime. The agency also said at the time that it would lose nearly $5 million of its yearly budget as permitting fees collected by the agency would evaporate.
On Thursday the agency took a more measured stance, saying in a statement that “change is a core competency for law enforcement and the OSBI is a dynamic agency that will adjust and adapt as necessary.”
“As always, our first priority is public safety and we will continue to passionately serve and protect the public,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, while Horn voted in favor of H.R. 8 this week, she voted Thursday against H.R. 1112, legislation that would extend the review period for background checks on gun purchases, lengthening it from three days to ten days. The measure ultimately passed but like H.R. 8 is unlikely to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.
“That bill’s intent to close a dangerous loophole was good, but it created an undue burden for law-abiding citizens and created a civil rights issue for the millions of Americans coping with mental and neurological illness,” Horn said in a statement to The Frontier. Critics of H.R. 1112 pointed to a provision in the bill that would make it illegal to sell a gun to someone who had been adjudicated with mental illness.