The so-called Firearms Freedom Act was one of two gun bills that the House Public Safety Committee passed. Another bill that sailed through the committee would allow private schools to develop their own rules and regulations on whether teachers and school visitors could be armed.
Both measures now proceed to the House Calendar Committee, which will determine whether the bills will be scheduled for a vote in the full House.
Rep. Sean Roberts, who sponsored the Firearms Freedom Act, said Oklahoma would join eight other states that already have passed similar measures. He said bills currently are pending in more than two dozen other states.
“Right now there are many federal regulations that are being proposed, and as far as the federal government's role based on the Constitution, we have the right in our state to regulate our own products that don't involve interstate commerce,” said Roberts, R-Hominy. “Basically, anything made in Oklahoma and stamped `Made in Oklahoma,' it would allow us not to be regulated under the federal guidelines.”
The bill passed on a 13-0 vote. It states that any firearm, accessory or ammunition that is manufactured in Oklahoma and remains within the borders of the state “is not subject to federal law, federal taxation or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce.”
The measure specifically excludes fully automatic weapons or those designed to fire rocket-propelled grenades or other explosive projectiles, and Roberts said certain kinds of ammunition already are banned in a separate area of state statutes.
The bill also specifically prohibits firearms covered under the act from being sold to convicted felons or anyone who has been adjudicated legally incompetent or committed to a mental health institution.
Rep. John Bennett, a co-sponsor of the bill, said he and other gun rights advocates in the Legislature are notifying gun manufacturers across the country of the pending legislation and urging them to consider moving their operations to Oklahoma.
“We've sent packages out to them, inviting them to Oklahoma and letting them know we are a gun-friendly state,” said Bennett, R-Sallisaw. “We are a gun-friendly state, and we want their business here.”
Former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry vetoed a similar bill during his final year in office in 2010, saying at the time it would abolish common-sense regulations like background checks and give criminals easy access to a wide array of weapons. He also said the bill was certain to draw a legal challenge and result in a losing court battle.
Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy