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Setting the Record Straight on Oklahoma's Proposed "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" Constitutional Amendment

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Setting the Record Straight on Oklahoma's Proposed "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" Constitutional Amendment

What is House Joint Resolution 1009?

HJR 1009 proposes an amendment to the "keep and bear arms" language in the Oklahoma Bill of Rights, part of the State Constitution. HJR 1009 is necessary because the Oklahoma courts have interpreted the current "keep and bear arms" language as

  • not protecting the right to personal defense;
  • not protecting arms useful for self-defense;
  • and not protecting a person’s right to lawfully keep and bear arms for self-defense on his or her own property.

HJR 1009 would RESTORE these protections for the right to keep and bear arms. Other states have adopted similar amendments to their constitutions.

Opponents of this legislation are spreading scare tactics about it, leading Oklahomans to believe it will lead to a “wild west” scenario.

Below are their claims, countered by the facts.

NRA Fact Checker

CLAIM: HJR 1009 would jeopardize the rights of businesses to keep guns from being carried onto the businesses’ private property.

FACT: HJR 1009 would NOT jeopardize the ability of private businesses to adopt policies about guns because the specific and clear language of the amendment applies to state government action and any government restrictions.

HJR 1009 would not change the ability of a private entity to prohibit persons from carrying on the business premises.

CLAIM: HJR 1009 would jeopardize the rights of event hosts at public parks, recreational areas and fairgrounds to prohibit weapons at their events.

FACT: No such “right” respecting these public places currently exists in state law. Oklahoma law specifically excludes public property designated as a park, recreational area, or fairgrounds from the places in which carrying a handgun is prohibited.

Current Oklahoma law prohibits “any person in control of” any such place from establishing “any policy or rule that has the effect of prohibiting any person in lawful possession of a handgun license from possession of a handgun” in these places.

Changes are pending to this law but these still won’t authorize event hosts to ban guns at all public parks, fairgrounds, and recreational areas.

CLAIM: HJR 1009 would jeopardize the current ability of colleges to prohibit guns on campus.

FACT: Oklahoma law does not impose a universal ban on guns on campuses. Additionally, Oklahoma law actually RESTRICTS the ability of a college or university to regulate and prohibit guns on campus.

A person with a valid handgun license may carry upon the premises of any college or university with the written consent of the college or university or center, or where a policy of the college or university or center allows carrying.

Nothing in the amendment limits the authority of any college or university to take disciplinary action against a student for a violation of a student code of conduct.

CLAIM: HJR 1009 would lessen the ability of law enforcement to protect public safety.

FACT: HJR 1009 does NOT restrict legitimate law enforcement activities. HJR 1009 expressly refers only to the right to keep and bears arms “for any legitimate purpose.” It specifically allows restrictions to prohibit the possession of guns by convicted felons and persons who have been found to be mentally incompetent or seriously mentally ill.

Background Information:

  • Violent crime remains a problem in America, and police are not always able to respond in a timely way. According to the recent U.S. Department of Justice study, National Crime Victimization Survey (2014), during 2014, three million people experienced at least one violent victimization, 1.2 million people experienced at least one serious violent victimization, and 8% of all households experienced one or more property victimizations. As noted in a recent Oklahoma news story, it can “take up to half an hour to get a police officer to respond to a call.” (News9.com, Crescent Residents Upset About Police Response Times, March 25, 2016, at http://www.news9.com/story/31569999/crescent-residents-upset-about-police-response-times).
  • Restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms deprive the law-abiding of their ability to protect themselves and others with a firearm.  
  • Since 1991, when the nation’s total violent crime rate hit an all-time high, 26 states have adopted Right-to-Carry laws, and the violent crime rate has declined by more than half, to a 43-year low, and the murder rate has declined to an all-time low.
  • Criminals are less likely to target someone who may be armed.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.