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Democrats and Republicans weigh in over deadline for constitutional carry petition

Posted at 6:16 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 19:16:05-04

TULSA, Okla. — Democrats are counting ballots to see if they reached the 59,000 signatures needed to stop constitutional carry from going into effect on November 1st.

It's been a debate for years in Oklahoma: should people be allowed to carry guns without training or a background check?

Senator Nathan Dahm passed a bill on this last year. After a veto from Governor Fallin, a similar House Bill 2597 moved through the legislature and was signed by Governor Stitt this spring.

"To keep and bear arms means not just to keep it and have it at your home but to bear it and carry it with you for self defense or for defense of others," Senator Dahm said.

Those against constitutional carry fear it will impact everything from tourism to public safety.

"When I was giving a talk downtown, one of the women raised her hand and said "why would people want to come here when we're becoming the wild, wild west where everybody will be packing guns?" And I didn't have a good answer for her," Senator Kevin Matthews said.

The bill would allow those 21 and older to carry unless it's in restricted locations, like schools, sporting events, and bars.

"I'm concerned about people like myself, my son, and my grandson. People of color. Often, with some of these new laws, these and others that accompany it... allow somebody to kill someone just because they were afraid," Senator Matthews said.

Republicans feel optimistic this could improve safety.

"The states that have passed constitutional carry, we've seen a decrease in murder rates. We've actually seen other crime rates have stayed flat or gone down. An armed society is a polite society," Senator Dahm said.

If democrats collect enough signatures, the petition will go to the state for review.

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