Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Handgun Bill Goes to Keating

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Handgun Bill Goes to Keating

Article excerpt

A bill that would allow Oklahomans who obtain permits to carry concealed handguns went through its final legislative round Tuesday.

The state House of Representatives passed by a 91-10 vote the 52-page Oklahoma Self Defense Act. The act, in the form of Senate Bill 3 by Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, now goes to Gov. Frank Keating.

The bill will allow a citizen at least 23 years old who has not been convicted of a felony to apply for a permit to carry a handgun hidden in a purse or pocket.

An applicant would have to submit to a background check and take eight hours of firearms training.

Business owners would be able to ban guns on their property. The bill provides that nothing in the act "be construed to limit. . .rights of any person, property owner, tenant, employer or other entity to control the possession of weapons on any property owned or controlled by the person or entity."

That provision was added after some businesses expressed alarm to The State Chamber, which lobbied for the change.

But the bill has been stripped of another provision that would have banned carrying a concealed gun into a bank. That provision had been added on the House floor at the request of a bankers' group.

Another important change from an earlier version: the conference committee removed a ban on carrying a concealed weapon into an establishment where alcohol is served.

Under the final version, only establishments whose main business is the sale of alcohol would be off limits to gun toters.

Much of the debate on the House floor Tuesday was from lawmakers who said the bill is too restrictive on the rights of gun owners.

The state's judicial system should "treat criminals like criminals and stop treating good people like criminals," said Rep. Mike Mass, D-Hartshorne.

Mass was debating against adopting the conference committee report, or final version, of Senate Bill 3. …

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