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Legislative Issues


by Charles H. Smith
Executive Director, Oklahoma Rifle Association

During the first week of the Oklahoma Legislature, convened on Monday, February 7, several bills were introduced that should be brought to the attention of Oklahoma gun owners and sportsmen. Chief among them, the ugly specter of range inspections and construction has once again raised its head.

S. 1143 by Rick Littlefield, Dist. 1 (Craig, Delaware, Ottawa Counties), is a replay of legislation back in 1997 that caused a stir among range owners and sportsmen. Under this legislation the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation would establish rules and standards for ranges. All ranges would be required to be inspected and approved by ODWC within two years following adoption of the law. This is an exact replay of the 1997 legislation that was greeted with much opposition from sportsmen's groups, law enforcement agencies and any other organization involved in hunting and shooting.

S.1144 by Rick Littlefield. This bill is a real "zinger." It would effectively shut down every outdoor range in Oklahoma. For example, this legislation calls for a "backstop not less than seven and one-half feet high, which shall be constructed of steel of a thickness not less than U.S. standard eight-gauge steel and shall be well lapped at the joints; the backstop shall be not less than eight nor more than twenty-five feet wide; Attached to each side of the backstop at ninety degree angles, extending toward the counter, shall be side walls of the same height as the backstop, which side walls shall be constructed of steel of a thickness not less than U.S. standard sixteen-gauge steel and shall be from six to twenty-five feet in length."

Another part of the "zinger" is: "No part of an open air shooting gallery on which construction is completed after June 30, 2000, shall lie within one quarter mile of any boundary of any wildlife rehabilitation facility owned, operated, or recognized as such by any agency of the United States or of this state."

S. 1311 by Maxine Horner, Dist. 11 (Osage, Tulsa Counties). This bill was introduced at the urging of a Tulsa group calling itself, "Oklahoma for Gun Safety." The essential element of this bill calls for trigger locks and storage of firearms. Violators would be subject up to one year imprisonment and a fine up to $5,000.

Although it may seem somewhat innocuous on the surface, this is the same old "one-size-fits-all" approach of the anti-gun organizations around the country. get a little here and come back again for more. To better understand "Oklahomans For Gun Safety" we need to look at the background.

Last July it was reported that a new anti-Second Amendment group had come into being. It was called the Bell Campaign and its goal is to dramatically tighten gun restrictions the laborious ground-level way: step-by-step, law-by-law, across the country. Their main weapon? Emotional appeal. Armed with a $4.3 million grant. Executive Director is Andrew McGuire, head of the nonprofit Trauma Foundation at San Francisco General Hospital. McGuire is modeling his new organization tactics after Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) an organization he helped create and once led as executive director. He plans to have gun control chapters of activists and victim supporters crisscrossing the country. What we now have in Tulsa is the result of his efforts.

Now for a good bill.

S. 1495 by Owen Laughlin, Dist. 49 , the legislation would require that any person convicted of a felony while using a gun would be required to serve at least 85% of the sentence. This is consistent with the position we have long held. while the people who want more gun restrictions won't support such punishment.

It would be appropriate to discuss these proposed bills with your legislators when they return to their districts. We shall continue to monitor them and work diligently to see that the bad ones never see the light of day.

Copyright © 2000
Oklahoma Rifle Association, Inc. All rights reserved