While clearing the decks for her departure as governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin (shown), who leaves office in January 2019 after serving two terms, signed numerous bills and vetoed others on Friday. Two bills in particular — SB 1140 and SB 1212 — riled up two groups seeking either to protect or to expand their influence through legislation.
The first, Senate Bill 1140, concerned private child-placing agencies’ freedom to place children with parents without violating their religious or moral principles. Friday’s press release said the governor “signed Senate Bill 1140 [under] which no private child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate [that] agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
The new law maintains the status quo, according to the governor: “SB 1140 allows faith-based agencies that contract with Oklahoma to continue to operate in accordance with their beliefs.”
Freedom Oklahoma, a pro-LGBTQ group, called the new law a “travesty” because in its view it is discriminatory and would deny some kids “good homes.” It issued a challenge to the governor: “We’ll see you in court.”
The other measure, Senate Bill 1212, would have eliminated the need for Oklahomans to get permission from the state before being allowed to carry a concealed firearm. The governor’s office’s press release framed the issue differently:
Governor Mary Fallin today vetoed Senate Bill 1212, which would have eliminated the requirement to complete a short firearms safety and training course from a certified instructor and demonstrate competency with a pistol before carrying a gun in public.
She should have left it at that. But in that press release the governor tried to explain away not only the breaking of her promise to her constituents during her reelection campaign not to infringe on their Second Amendment rights, but also the violating of her oath of office to support the Constitution of the United States. She stated:
Oklahoma is a state that respects the Second Amendment. As governor, I have signed both concealed-carry and open-carry legislation. I support the right to bear arms and own a pistol, a rifle, and a shotgun.
Oklahomans believe that law-abiding individuals should be able to defend themselves. I believe the firearms requirements we currently have in state law are few and reasonable. Senate Bill 1212 eliminates the training requirements for persons carrying firearms in Oklahoma. It reduces the level of the background check necessary to carry a gun.
SB 1212 eliminates the current ability of Oklahoma law enforcement to distinguish between those carrying guns who have been trained and vetted, and those who have not.
All of which is unpersuasive to purists who believe that “shall not be infringed” means exactly that. To suggest that Oklahoma has the right and the responsibility to make sure that everyone who carries has the “training” and “vetting” to do so is merely a cover for her decision to veto this much-needed expansion of firearms freedom in the Sooner state.
And just why do Fallin and Oklahoma perceive it to be their responsibility to give Oklahoma law enforcement the power to “distinguish” between those carrying guns who have been trained and vetted and those who have not? This smacks of “pre-crime” intervention: scoping out individuals who might commit a crime sometime in the future based on flimsy evidence that they haven’t had state-approved training and vetting in order to carry in public. Is it suggested that, without such training and vetting, they present a provably greater danger to the general public?
The National Rifle Association was similarly unimpressed, issuing a simple statement following Fallin’s veto:
Gov. Fallin vetoed this important piece of self-defense legislation despite the state legislature’s overwhelming approval of the bill and her commitment to NRA members to support constitutional carry when she ran for reelection.
Make no mistake, this temporary setback will be rectified when Oklahoma residents elect a new, and genuinely pro-Second Amendment governor.
Photo of Mary Fallin: Michael Vadon