Oklahoma State Senator Nathan Dahm (shown, R-Broken Arrow) and Oklahoma State Representative Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) are vowing to fight back against Republican Governor Mary Fallin’s veto last week of Dahm’s bill, which would have recognized constitutional carry in the Sooner State. Dahm was the principal sponsor of SB 1212, which stipulates that any person 21 and older, and military personnel who are 18 and older, can carry a firearm without a license. The bill passed the Senate near the end of the legislative session by 33-9, after having passed the House of Representatives last month, by a margin of 59-28.
But Dahm is determined not to stop there. He and Roberts are pushing for a special session which will address not only the concealed-carry law, but also other legislation vetoed by Fallin during her nearly eight years as governor. Fallin is term-limited this year.
Because the bill passed so close to the end of the regular legislative session, by the time Fallin killed the bill it was too late for the Oklahoma Legislature to override her veto. While the Legislature could not actually override her veto, the same bill could be passed in a special session, with the Legislature then remaining in session until after Fallin takes some action on the bill. Under the state Constitution, the Legislature can call itself into special session without any action by the governor if enough legislators sign a petition to do so. Two-thirds of the membership of the House and the Senate would be required to force a special session without the governor’s blessing.
Although Fallin is a Republican, and the Legislature is strongly Republican, her relationship with the Legislature has been rocky in recent years, partly because of her tendency to veto many bills desired by the Republican majority. Despite arguing for years that she was a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, this is not the first pro-gun-rights bill she has vetoed — nor does she veto just pro-gun-rights legislation. For example, after several years of touting herself as a “pro-life” politician, Fallin stunned the state’s pro-life community when she vetoed a bill that would have revoked the license of any physician who performed an abortion.
That bill was also sponsored by Senator Dahm — and apparently he has had enough.
“This is something we’ve been fighting [in favor of] for years,” Dahm told Fox News when his constitutional-carry bill sailed through the Legislature by huge margins. Dahm won national recognition a few years ago when he appeared on the Piers Morgan show and ably defended gun rights to Morgan, a strong opponent of the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. Considered one of the most conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature, Dahm achieved a 98-percent score on the Conservative Index, published by The Oklahoma Constitution newspaper.
Fallin, on the other hand, has drifted leftward during her years in the governor’s mansion. She lamely defended her veto, arguing, “I support the right to bear arms and own a pistol, a rifle, and a shotgun.” Yes, and Senator John Kerry thought he could hoodwink supporters of the Second Amendment when he ran for president in 2004, simply by purchasing a hunting license!
After announcing his effort to overturn not only her veto of his gun bill, Dahm quickly gained several legislators as supporters of that effort. Dahm noted that Fallin had issued 133 vetoes during her tenure. He hopes to run some of these same bills through during a special session.
Had the Dahm bill on constitutional carry been signed by Fallin, Oklahoma would have become the 12th state to recognize that citizens do not need the state’s permission to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. The bill would have prohibited the carrying of firearms in schools and other government buildings, and private property owners would still have been able to bar the carrying of a gun on their premises, as well.
During debate in the House, Representative Shane Stone asked, “Can you explain to me why I should have to go pay for a license or an identification card in order to carry out my even more fundamental right to vote, but I shouldn’t have to [to] carry a weapon?”
Dahm countered, “There is not another right that requires people to get training and licensing in order to exercise that right,” lamenting that the Second Amendment is “infringed upon the most.”
Perhaps with Dahm’s dogged persistence, Oklahomans will soon be afforded their full Second Amendment-protected rights, despite the opposition of their governor.
2017 photo of Oklahoma Senator Nathan Dahm: AP Images