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Oklahoma's Congressional Delegation Unanimously Rejects Obama's Executive Action On Gun Violence

President Obama speaks Jan. 5, 2016 during a White House announcement of new executive actions to try to reduce gun violence.
The White House
President Obama speaks Tuesday during a White House announcement of new executive actions to try to reduce gun violence.

All seven members of Oklahoma’s Congress delegation criticized President Obama’s executive action to try to reduce gun violence.

U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla. 5) says the president doesn’t have the right to prohibit the public from protecting their lives, liberty, and property, and said in a social media post Congress will stand in the way of an executive who doesn’t uphold the constitution.

“While he may be a constitutional scholar, he needs to be schooled on constitutional history,” Russell said. “From Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams, all the way to the Supreme Court decisions with Heller and McDonald, this constitutional right has been affirmed.”

Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) said the plan disregards the separation of powers, and wouldn’t prevent gun violence.

“Most Americans understand that guns are tools that must be used responsibly, whether for recreational use or the protection of our families and property,” Cole said in a statement. “While the president is clearly frustrated by his inability to push through legislation that is consistent with his extreme anti-gun ideology, that is no excuse for bypassing Congress by issuing constitutionally-dubious executive orders.”

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla. 3) says a serious effort to curb violent crime should focus on enforcing current laws. 

“As the president enters his final year in office, this proposal is nothing more than an attempt to distract the public from his failure to lead on significant issues like national security, immigration and the economy,” Lucas said. “This executive action deserves the full scrutiny of our legal system and I will continue to stand with my colleagues in Congress to oppose any attempts to infringe on our Second Amendment rights.”

Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla. 1) says he’s co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit the Social Security Commissioner from turning over social security numbers to the Department of Justice’s background check system.

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla. 2) says he expects the executive action to be challenged in federal court.

“It has been clear for a long time that President Obama does not respect the lawmaking process—he continually tries to go around Congress and push his personal agenda on our country,” Mullin said.

Both of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senators also criticized Obama’s plan to expand background checks to sellers that aren’t a federally registered dealer. U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) says he’d rather see the root causes of gun violence – broken families, mental health, drug use, and a culture that glorifies violence – addressed.

“A President who aggressively demeans the rights of law-abiding citizens fails to achieve real policy goals, and actually increases the sales of guns and ammunition since people are rightfully concerned about the future of their Second Amendment rights,” Lankford said in a statement.

Oklahoma's field representative for the National Rifle Association echoed that sentiment, telling The Oklahoman's Randy Ellis many law-abiding citizens have gotten concealed carry permits and bought firearms out of fear of Obama pushing gun control legislation:

During President Obama's first six years in office (2009-2014), the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation issued 232,307 licenses for Oklahomans to carry handguns. That's nearly triple the 80,842 handgun licenses that were issued during the six years that immediately preceded Obama taking office (2003-2008). Annual OSBI handgun license statistics are not yet available for 2015, but as of Tuesday, there were 238,353 Oklahomans with active licenses to carry handguns, an OSBI spokeswoman said. “Whenever there's a threat of gun control, people get concerned,” DeLong said. “The ammo crunch that was there for so long, people just were hoarding ammo. It was because they were afraid something was going to be passed on ammo — taxation or something.”

Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe says none of the president’s executive actions on gun control would have prevented the mass shootings that inspired them, and that it was simply “an effort to show off to his liberal base.”

"For months he has had his staff working night and day to find ways for him to push his gun control agenda unilaterally while we’ve been waiting years for any leadership or a clear strategy for the Middle East, ISIL and Syria,” Inhofe said in a statement. “Ft. Hood, Chattanooga and San Bernardino were terrorist attacks that have happened here, in America, and we need to make sure that we are strengthening our borders, our visa programs and our surveillance of possible terror suspects before we try and curb Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights when they need them the most.”

At the state level, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the president’s executive actions “appear unconnected” to the types of incidents he described in his proposal.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt released the following statement concerning the President’s executive actions on guns.

“The President is once again trying to bypass Congress to unilaterally impose his political agenda,” the state’s top law enforcement officer said in a statement. “The President instead should work with Congress on substantive reforms that reduce gun violence while still preserving the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families. We should never sacrifice liberty and the rule of law in the name of symbolism or expediency.”

Firearms Community Reaction

Claude Hall, who owns the OKC Gun Show that will be held this weekend at State Fair Park, says it will likely boost sales, Ellis reports:

“Any time the president speaks on gun control, business goes up because people are afraid they are going to be told they can't do something and if they perceive that, they will want to go and buy it today,” he said. Miles Hall, owner of H&H Shooting Sports, said expanded background checks won't accomplish much because most gun sellers are already licensed and are already required to perform background checks. “If you are doing this for a living you already have a license,” Hall said. “Who this is really going to be bothering is the families who want to give a gun to their adult child. Now they are going to have to do a background check.”

KGOU produces journalism in the public interest, essential to an informed electorate. Help support informative, in-depth journalism with a donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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