By Patrick B. McGuigan | CapitolBeatOK
OKLAHOMA CITY – Call it the midnight special: The Oklahoma House of Representatives,
running behind schedule to meet deadlines to forward bills for Senate
consideration, worked late March 12. So late, in fact, that it was
almost March 13 before pro-gun bills made it to the floor.
House members gave strong approval to bills advancing Second
Amendment rights — including House Bill 1062, a proposal to allow
teachers trained in gun safety to bring weapons to school sites.
Cheering them on was Larry Pratt, the “happy
warrior” who runs Gun Owners of America.
The House also pushed through the Firearms Freedom Act, House Bill 2021,
allowing firearms manufactured in the Sooner State to be free from
federal laws, taxes and regulations. That measure drew only 12 negative
votes, with 79 backing it. Still another measure, House Bill 1622,
“modifying the manner in which handguns may be transported onto private
school property,” passed 87-4.
In the end, the “teacher carry” bill, H.B. 1062,
prevailed on a 68-23 vote, drawing seven Democratic votes along with all
but five of the Republicans present and voting. Ten members, many of
them absent due to the late hour, did not vote.
Passage came after majorities rebuffed proposed amendments, including
a proposal to allow parents to transfer children to private schools in
districts allowing teachers to carry weapons.
If the measure passes the Senate in its present form and is signed by Gov. Mary Fallin,
school personnel allowed to carry weapons onto campus would include
administrators, superintendents, principals, supervisors, vice
principals, teachers, counselors, librarians, bus drivers, school nurses
and others “in any instructional capacity.”
The measure includes tort claim protections for personnel carrying
weapons in compliance with the proposed law. The bill allows, and
appears to encourage, school districts to enter into memorandums of
understanding with local law enforcement.
The measure now moves to the Senate, where Judiciary Committee Chairman Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, is its champion.
House passage of the measure allowing armed teachers was a victory for lead sponsor Mark McCullough of Sapulpa, and his co-sponsors — fellow Republicans Sean Roberts of Osage and Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow.
Ritze told CapitolBeatOK, “Until there is
recognition for the constitutional right of every law-abiding citizen to
carry a gun, it is not only reasonable but prudent to encourage
incremental steps like this, to take our country back to liberty. One
person with a gun, knowing how to use it effectively and safely, could
have stopped the Newtown school killer in his tracks. I am proud of the bipartisan majority that passed this in the Oklahoma House.”
The legislation leaves in place many restrictions on taking weapons onto school properties, but creates a specific exemption:
“A handgun may be carried into any elementary or secondary school by
school personnel who have successfully completed a special reserve
school resource officer academy … provided a policy has been adopted by
the board of education of a school district that authorizes the carrying
of a handgun into the elementary or second school.”
The measure specifically allows possession of handguns by teachers
who complete the designated safety training, if a simple majority of the
local board has enacted that policy. The academy for school resource
officers “shall be conducted by CLEET (the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training).”
If ultimately enacted, the measure devolves to CLEET authority to
“promulgate policies and procedures” for implementation, and for
continuing education and training.Article continues at watchdog.org
Monday, March 18, 2013
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