Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rifle Association Opposes Open Carry Measure; Russell Says Group's Position 'Irresponsible'

The Oklahoma Rifle Association's board of directors is out with a letter to House members stating its opposition to Senator Steve Russell's open carry proposal, Senate Bill 129. It's a move that Russell says disappoints him and despite the ORA's oppostion, he expects the bill to pass.

"It was the intent of the Oklahoma Rifle Association to remain in a position of neutrality on the 'Open Carry' legislation as many of our members support some form of open carry," ORA President Don Scott and Legislative Director Paul W. Abel wrote.

"The Officers and Board Members of the ORA are in agreement with the 'Open Carry' concept but, after much discussion, the majority of the Board Members and Officers voted to oppose Senate Bill 129.... This bill, in its present form, would allow those 18 years of age and older, to purchase and carry loaded rifles, shotguns and handguns openly in a scabbard, with a sling, or a handgun in a holster, anywhere not in violation of Title 21, subsection A of Section 1277, without a background check and without training.

"The Officers and Board Members are in opposition to SB 129 for these reasons:

"First, the purchase of handguns by persons under the age of 21 is in violation of existing federal law.

"Second, allowing citizens, trained or untrained, to carry rifles and shotguns either in a scabbard or with a sling on city streets and into business establishments will create an atmosphere of hostility and distrust, not to mention create fear in those in our society who have an aversion to any type of firearm.

"Third, the apprehension, created for the law enforcement officers by the open carrying of long guns could create situations resulting in unnecessary use of deadly force.

"For these reasons we ask you to vote against SB 129 when it comes to the floor of the House of Representatives."

Russell told The McCarville Report Online he finds the ORA position "irresponsible for a group claiming to support the 2nd Amendment."

He said he has never been contacted about the bill, nor was he asked for his view of how it might appear in final form, or asked to express any concerns or opinions he has.

He said the ORA objections come before the bill is finalized and before it has undergone the "full legislative process."

Russell said he is working on three issues related to the bill, including the age factor, the training level that could be similar to a hunter safety course with certification of training and the "reciprocity" issue (with other states), which has to be handled properly and "kept separately" from the state's concealed carry law.

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