The most active members of Oklahoma's pro-gun lobby said President Barack Obama's push for tighter gun restrictions is “feel good” politics at the cost of sound gun policy.
Monday, Obama accused the national gun lobby of “ginning up” fears that the federal government is looking to take away gun rights in the wake of last month's Connecticut school shooting.
The remarks came in advance of gun policy reforms expected to be announced Tuesday.
“We have got to start getting down to the real core of what's creating this situation, and so far all we hear are these simple answers,” said Charles Smith, executive director of the Oklahoma Rifle Association. “They make them feel good, but they don't really address the problem.”
Comments by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who heads a gun policy task force created by Obama to study these issues, have indicated the focus of reforms would be on banning certain assault-style weapons and strengthening background checks for gun purchases.
Smith agreed there needs to be more extensive mental health checks on gun purchasers in Oklahoma, but he said limiting access to high-powered rifles would not curb the chances for a school shooting.
Instead, the reformers should focus on Hollywood and the prevalence of gun violence in the media, he said.
Tim Gillespie, president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association (OK2A), said he is disappointed federal policymakers are using the Connecticut shooting to push for stricter gun control.
“(Obama) is using this situation as a catalyst to try to do what is within his nature to do,” Gillespie said. “He's a progressive, they don't like people having guns and he's doing what he can to restrict that God-given right.”
New state proposals planned
Rep. Steve Martin, R-Bartlesville, the first-draft author of Oklahoma's new open carry law, said he will pursue legislation this spring that will make it more difficult for those with a history of mental illness to access guns.