How constitutional carry failed in Oklahoma... for now

There were quite a few Second Amendment supporters in Oklahoma who were left this week with a feeling of, “what just happened?” The Sooner State was poised to become the 15th in the nation to enact Constitutional Carry after both the state House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure, named SB-1212, with veto-proof majorities a couple of weeks ago. But in a move that some supporters had been wary of all along, Governor Mary Fallin vetoed the bill on Friday. (Fox News)

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday vetoed the “Constitutional Carry” bill that, if passed, would have enabled handgun owners in the state to carry without first obtaining a permit.

The NRA had supported the bill’s passage and had urged Fallin to sign it.

While Oklahoma “is a state that respects the Second Amendment,” Fallin said in a statement, she chose to veto the bill, also known as Senate Bill 1212, because “the firearms requirement we current have in state law are few and reasonable.”

“Oklahoma is a state that respects the Second Amendment. As governor, I have signed both concealed-carry and open-carry legislation. I support the right to bear arms and own a pistol, a rifle, and a shotgun,” the statement read.

Given the bright red nature of Oklahoma, this veto probably seems surprising to many observers. And if Fallin wasn’t scheduled to retire next January she might have signed it into law. But while her reasons may anger many of her constituents and the members of the legislature, they’re not entirely crazy when compared to much of the rest of the nation. Oklahoma doesn’t exactly have onerous gun laws as it is. The only aspects of gun rights being impacted involved handgun owners who wish to carry in public. They currently have to take a brief gun safety class (likely quite similar to the one I had to take as a kid before getting my first hunting license) and pass a background check.

SB-1212 would have somehow lowered the bar on the background check and removed the requirement for the training course. It seems that was a bridge too far for Fallin. If I seem less enraged about this than you might expect it’s probably because I live in New York, so the gun laws in almost any other state look fairly tame compared to what we’re stuck with here.

Since the bill passed both chambers with such strong support you might be wondering if they won’t just turn around and override the veto. Maybe, but it’s going to be a while. The Oklahoma legislature is only in regular session for a few months a year. The state Senate passed the bill and sent it to Fallin on May 2nd and then the state legislature adjourned on May 3rd. They will not gavel back into session until January 8th of next year, which is also right around the time that Fallin is retiring.

The legislature can, in theory, be called back for an Extraordinary Session or Special Session (they did so just last year to address a budget crisis impasse). But to do so it would have to either be called by the Governor (unlikely since it would just be to override her veto) or through the agreement of two-thirds of the members. Is overriding a veto in this case an urgent enough matter to justify the expense of a special session?

I don’t think Oklahoma is in much danger of electing a Democrat as their next governor, and the makeup of the legislature isn’t likely to change all that much in the next seven months. They should probably be able to either override the veto when they return or pass a fresh bill for the new governor to sign. In the meantime, the Second Amendment is still fairly robust in Oklahoma.