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Gun Deaths In Oklahoma: Trends, Laws And Survival

Aug 6, 2019
A glimpse from 2016 into a bucketful of confiscated guns in the Oklahoma City Police Department’s property room.
Michael Willmus

Mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend have put gun deaths and firearm laws back in the spotlight.

Oklahoma’s last major mass shooting event was in 1986, when 14 people were killed at an Edmond post office. But the state’s death rate from guns used in both suicide and homicide has been rising and a major loosening of gun regulations is upon us when the state’s new “permitless carry” law goes into effect Nov. 1.

Rod Waddington / Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill that would allow Oklahomans to carry firearms in public without getting permission from the state is on Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk.

State senators gave Senate Bill 1212 their final approval late Wednesday night on a measure that allows gun owners to carry their firearms openly or hidden from view without a permit, passing state background checks or paying the related fees. They also won’t have to take 16 hours of firearms safety training currently required before carrying a gun in public.

The training centers on three points. McBride says people need to plan for a “fight or flight” response during shootings and other deadly emergencies. “They’ve got to be able to either get out or fight and not just stand there and freeze,” he said.  Next,
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gunshots ring through the chapel of First United Methodist Church. An instructional video simulating shooting rampages plays on a projector screen hanging above the pulpit between two banners that read “Good Shepherd” and “Lion of Judah.”

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general, gestures as he speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 8, 2013.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

The Oklahoma attorney general has issued an opinion that out-of-state handgun licenses obtained by Oklahomans online are as valid as Oklahoma-issued handgun licenses, even if the other state has more lenient requirements.

The opinion, released Friday, states that Oklahoma residents with a “non-resident” handgun license from another state, such as Virginia, and Utah, are as valid as Oklahoma's concealed handgun license.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, left, talks to House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, before Gov. Mary Fallin delivered her State of the State address, February 1, 2016.
J. Pat Carter / AP

Shortly after noon Friday, the Oklahoma Senate adjourned sine die. At the same time, members of the House entered the third hour of questions on the $6.8 billion budget bill to fund state government for the 2017 fiscal year that begins July 1.

revolver chamber
frankieleon / (CC BY 2.0)

A pair of foster parents and the nonprofit Second Amendment Foundation are suing the Oklahoma Department of Human Services over an agency rule about firearm possession.

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

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.

Emily Allen / Flickr.com

Oklahomans who want to carry a firearm will be able to take the required gun safety course online under a bill approved by the House of Representatives.

The House voted 88-7 on Tuesday for the bill by Republican Rep. Casey Murdock of Felt, who says he expects it will lead to an increase in the number of Oklahomans who get a license to carry a gun.

Felt says the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training would be responsible for setting up the online course and would use voice-recognition technology to ensure the right person is taking it.

A loophole in Oklahoma law allows individuals to obtain a valid handgun license without ever firing a practice shot or picking up a gun.

Scores of Oklahomans have avoided the state’s requirement to take live firearm training with a licensed instructor in order to obtain a license to carry a concealed or visible handgun. The applicants instead apply for a license in a state such as Virginia that requires the applicant only to take an online quiz and pass a background check, which Oklahoma also requires. Oklahoma recognizes licenses granted in other states.

Emily Allen / Flickr.com

A recently filed bill would allow state gun owners to own firearms made and kept in Oklahoma without registering them with the federal government.

SB0010 was filed by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid. It would create the Firearms Manufacturer Relocation to Oklahoma Act, which would exempt guns made and sold in the state from any federal law, taxation or regulation under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

The bill also states that certain materials imported into the state for the manufacturing of firearms or firearm accessories to not make those firearms subject to federal regulation.

Anderson said the purpose of his bill is to appeal to gun makers nationally and attract their businesses into the local economy.

“The primary goal is to say, ‘Come to Oklahoma,’” Anderson said. “Oklahoma’s a gun friendly state and we’d love to have their businesses and employees here in Oklahoma.”