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Oklahoma has 186 new laws going into effect Nov. 1

One new Oklahoma law that takes effect Nov. 1 allows CareerTech students, staff and faculty with conceal carry permits to bring handguns on campus, but it requires them to keep them locked in their vehicles.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: October 30, 2011 at 12:07 am •  Published: October 30, 2011
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Students, teachers and visitors with a valid concealed-carry permit later this week will be able to bring handguns to a CareerTech campus — as long as they keep them in their locked vehicles.

CareerTech officials said they have talked with students, faculty and staff about the new law.

None of the campuses are planning to install metal detectors to make sure the weapons remain out of the school, but some are considering hiring extra security officers.

Oklahomans who have concealed gun permits are authorized by the state to carry the weapons, but commit a crime when they leave their gun inside their vehicle on a CareerTech campus. Backers of the bill say adult students who carry a handgun for self-protection reasons worried about the risk of being arrested when leaving their gun in their car on a CareerTech parking lot; most high school students still will be unable to bring a gun in their vehicles because persons must be at least 21 years old to get a concealed carry permit.

The law is one of 186 laws passed by legislators and signed by the governor this year that will take effect Tuesday.

Other issues

Other significant measures include ones that change how lawsuits are handled, relieve prison overcrowding and take away collective bargaining rights from nonuniformed municipal employees in most of Oklahoma's largest cities.

Two anti-abortion measures also take effect Tuesday, which put Oklahoma among the most restrictive on abortion. A third bill was supposed to have taken effect, but it has been placed on hold by a district court judge.

CareerTech reaction

CareerTech Director Phil Berkenbile opposed passage of House Bill 1652, saying that allowing guns on campus will not help provide a safe and secure environment.

The CareerTech system provides education and training for adults and high school students.

Some campuses are considering asking adult students who have concealed-carry permits to provide that information to the superintendent's office, he said. That way if a gunpowder-trained dog hits on a vehicle, staff could know quickly whether the owner is licensed to carry a handgun.

“I don't know if this will increase the presence of guns on campus or not,” Berkenbile said. “I think it will. With the state of violence going on around the world, you're going to see more and more people doing something for protection.

“It's all up to the people that have the guns to use them responsibly and make sure they're stored responsibly,” he said. “That's all we can pray for.”

Provisions in the bill are similar to existing law covering colleges and universities.

Gun owners who have concealed-carry permits must leave their handguns secured in their vehicles on college and university parking lots; written permission from the college or university president is required for the gun owner to carry the gun on campus.

A CareerTech administrator would have to give similar written permission before the gun owner could carry the gun on other parts of the campus.

All 29 CareerTech superintendents opposed the measure. They said their main concern is safety of students on CareerTech's 54 campuses.

“Hopefully there's just not that many that's actually going to bring concealed weapons on the campus,” said Greg Winters, superintendent of the Canadian Valley Technology Center, which has campuses in Chickasha, El Reno and Yukon.

Routine checks by drug dogs that often are trained to detect gunpowder will continue, Winters said. Owners of vehicles where dogs detect a handgun will be asked to present their concealed permit.

Limiting damages

Nearly two decades of efforts mostly by Republican lawmakers and officials to change how lawsuits are handled in court will culminate when three significant measures take effect Tuesday.

HB 2128 places a $350,000 hard cap on noneconomic damages, often referred to as pain and suffering. It will not affect economic damages, such as lost wages, medical expenses and future loss of expected wages.

The bill also includes an exception to the cap in cases of malicious conduct, gross negligence and reckless disregard.

Senate Bill 862 eliminates joint and several liability, often called the “deep pocket” rule, where each and every defendant in a lawsuit is liable for the entire amount of a plaintiff's damage regardless of their degree of fault. It is intended to eliminate the deep pocket consideration, so that plaintiffs seek defendants who are most at fault rather than defendants with the most financial assets.

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