Rep. Todd Russ says he filed a measure so someone who made a mistake early in life and committed a nonviolent crime could have the chance to have a gun — to take a child hunting or to keep a rifle or shotgun handed down by an ancestor.
He wasn't prepared Wednesday when he was told by another lawmaker that nonviolent offenses included bombing, possessing child pornography, child prostitution, drive-by shootings and all drug offenses, which include trafficking and distributing.
“I was horrified when I saw that in our statutes these … things are nonviolent offenses,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, who brought up the nonviolent crimes during the committee hearing on Russ' measure, House Bill 1775. “There occasionally have been cases where somebody was overcharged … but there are also a lot of people out there who are bad guys, and I'm sorry, I don't want them to have any gun.”
Russ, R-Cordell, said he had in mind nonviolent crimes such as writing a check with insufficient funds. He agreed to stop a committee hearing on his HB 1775.
He told members of the House of Representatives Public Safety Committee that he would streamline the measure to target specific nonviolent crimes in which a person who has completed the sentencing and probation would be able to possess a firearm.
“Just because it may have that in some people's lives doesn't necessarily mean that they're a horrible, horrible person,” Russ said. “I'll be happy to pick and choose.
“My experience of looking at people's lives who may have had a run-in with these kinds of subject matters doesn't always mean these people are real scoundrels,” said Russ, who ran a similar measure three years ago.
Convicted felons, whether of a violent or nonviolent crime, are prohibited now from possessing a firearm or having one in their house or vehicle.
Russ said convicted nonviolent felons had the right to possess firearms until about 20 years ago when the law was changed. State laws don't identify nonviolent crimes, but instead states that nonviolent crimes are those that are not identified as violent crimes.
“They can never own a shotgun or a gun in their family to hunt,” he said. “They can't take their young son or daughter bird hunting. They can't hunt anyway, nor can they be in a home or a vehicle that possesses guns so their children can't have Granddad's gun handed down to them.”