The state Senate on Thursday voted 39-0 to complete a Legislative override of Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of a firearms bill.
It was the first successful override of a Gov. Fallin veto.
“The right to keep and possess firearms is sacred to Americans, and especially to Oklahomans,” said state Rep. Mike Turner, R-Edmond, the House author of the bill. “Oklahomans overwhelmingly oppose gun restrictions, particularly those forced upon us by federal bureaucrats.”
House Bill 2461 was backed by the National Rifle Association and the Oklahoma Second Amendment Rights Association, supporters said.
Turner, who is running for U.S. Congress, was quick to say he wasn’t accusing the governor of being an enemy of gun owners.
“While on this particular bill we differed, I know Governor Fallin is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment,” Turner said.
The governor is both a gun owner and a member of the NRA, said Alex Weintz, her communications director.
The purpose of the bill is to prevent Oklahoma sheriffs and police chiefs from stalling the transfer of federally regulated firearms and accessories like silencers, fully automatic weapons and short-barreled shotguns, said state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, the Senate author of the bill.
The bill places a 15-day deadline on local chief law enforcement officers to act on a transfer request once the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms has determined the applicant’s eligibility, Dahm said.
“There have been cases where a sheriff, or whoever that law enforcement officer might be, has just kept it in limbo for perpetuity, so what this does is it sets a time limit,” Dahm said. “Once the ATF signs off on it, you have 15 days to either approve or deny the permit.”
Gov. Fallin, who is normally aligned with gun rights advocates on legislative issues, said in her veto message that the bill “attempts to regulate a federal agency.”
“The ATF is not required to follow the requirements of this bill,” the veto message said. “This bill serves no significant interest of the citizens of the state of Oklahoma.”
Dahm disputed Fallin’s interpretation of the bill, saying, “it is in no way regulating a federal agency.”
After Fallin’s veto was overridden, the governor issued a news release Thursday reiterating that the bill was one of 15 House bills she vetoed on April 29 in an effort to refocus the Legislature’s attention on important issues that haven’t been addressed.
Those issues include repairing the crumbling state Capitol, supporting communities seeking to build school storm shelters, stabilizing the state pension system, working to reduce prescription drug abuse, appropriately funding education, and granting targeted pay raises to some state employees, she said.
“Those issues remain unaddressed and time is running out,” Fallin said.
“The Legislature has chosen to override one of my vetoes, which is certainly its legal right and an outcome I knew was possible. The legislation they passed today makes it easier to sell and transfer restricted firearms and accessories like silencers, which is fine. Now that they’ve accomplished that, I am asking the House and Senate to work with each other and with me to deliver legislation to fund our state government, improve our economy and generally do the things their constituents have put them in office to do. The legislative session is scheduled to end on May 30th. The time for action is now.”