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What to Know About Gun Safety in Oklahoma as 2020 Legislative Session Begins

On Monday, Oklahoma lawmakers will return to the Capitol for the 2020 state legislative session. Last year, lawmakers passed permitless carry legislation against the wishes of law enforcement, faith leaders, and survivors of gun violence. This year, Moms Demand Action volunteers will urge their representatives to reject any further effort to weaken Oklahoma’s gun laws, particularly bills that would reduce training requirements for teachers carrying guns and force guns on college campuses. 

More information on these policies is below. If you’d like to connect with an Oklahoma Moms Demand Action volunteer, please reach out.

Guns on Campus: Oklahoma law generally prohibits guns on college campuses. SB 1567 would force public universities to allow people with concealed carry permits to carry guns on campuses, leaving colleges powerless to keep guns out of most places, including dorms, classrooms, and sporting events. Oklahoma’s chancellor of higher education opposes this bill, citing broad opposition from public colleges and universities. Georgia passed a similar law in 2017 — last fall, a University of Georgia student was hospitalized after unintentionally shooting himself in the leg. Yesterday, Republican leadership in the state legislature indicated a lack of community support for SB 1567 at a Chamber of Commerce event.
  
Arming Teachers: Moms Demand Action volunteers will urge lawmakers to reject renewed efforts to pass SB 1570 and HB 2336, which would dramatically cut the training requirements for teachers carrying guns in school. Current Oklahoma law allows certain educators to be armed if they complete between 72 and 240 hours of training to do so. These bills would instead allow a teacher to carry a gun in school with as little as eight hours of training. There is no research indicating that arming teachers makes children safer. In fact, increasing the number of teachers that are armed in schools also increases the risk of unintentional shootings or falling into a students’ hands. Just this month, a School Marshal in Texas left their gun unattended in a middle school bathroom where it was found by a student. Last year, an Alabama substitute teacher’s gun unintentionally discharged in his pocket as he taught first-graders. 

Oklahoma has the ninth-highest rate of gun violence in the country. Nearly 700 people die from gun violence each year, and it’s on the rise— the rate of gun deaths in Oklahoma increased 23 percent from 2008 to 2017.
 
More information on gun violence in Oklahoma is available here.