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NRA suffers embarrassing defeat in deep red Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed an NRA-backed gun bill on Friday, dealing a major blow to the gun group.

By Caroline Orr - May 12, 2018
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Wayne LaPierre
Wayne LaPierre

The NRA suffered a major political defeat on Friday when Republican Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma vetoed an NRA-backed bill that would have allowed adults to carry firearms without a permit.

The so-called “Constitutional Carry” bill would have essentially allowed anyone over the age of 21 to carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, without a state-issued license or permit.

By eliminating the need for a permit entirely, the legislation strips law enforcement of their ability to deny permits to criminals and other dangerous people — making it legal for criminals to carry guns in public.

The NRA had pushed for the bill’s passage and pressured Fallin to sign it, despite widespread opposition among citizens.

In a statewide survey conducted just before the bill reached Fallin’s desk, more than 80 percent of Oklahoma residents said they opposed letting people carry firearms without permits.

Business and property owners also came out strongly against the legislation. In a letter dated May 4, more than 50 local associations, universities, businesses, and law enforcement organizations expressed their opposition to the legislation, saying it would take away their rights to prohibit guns on their own property.

Also opposed to the NRA-backed bill was the state bureau of investigation, which is in charge of issuing gun licenses.

The legislation was first introduced as a bill pertaining only to wildlife and refuge areas, but was quietly amended late last month to allow permitless carry of loaded firearms. Furthermore, it passed through the GOP-controlled state House and Senate without ever receiving a committee hearing in either chamber.

Eleven states have passed similar legislation. While the NRA claims the laws improve public safety, there is no reliable evidence supporting this assertion. There is, however, a growing body of research showing that the passage of “constitutional carry” laws and similar “right-to-carry” laws are associated with an increase in firearm violence.

The NRA lashed out at Fallin for not signing its reckless gun bill, which it laughably referred to as “self-defense legislation.”

But the NRA’s angry response can’t hide its fear. A Republican governor in a deep-red state just publicly rebuked the group’s extreme agenda — and she did it with the support of the vast majority of citizens.

This is just the latest in a series of defeats for the gun group, which has seen its corporate sponsors flee and public support plummet in recent months. Things have gotten so bad that some Republican politicians have taken to hiding and even lying about their record on guns to distance themselves from the NRA.

Behind closed doors, things are even worse, as the NRA — which claims to be a patriotic defender of the Constitution — faces mounting scrutiny and multiple angles of investigation for serving as a potential conduit for foreign countries to influence U.S. politics.

And if Friday is any indication, things may be about to go from bad to worse.


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