Monday, March 17, 2008

Breaking Up The Crime Bubble

The House of Representatives recently finished consideration of the bills that have been introduced this year by State Representatives. This included consideration of HB 2513 which I was honored to present to the House. HB 2513 passed the House with bi-partisan support and a 65-36 vote of the members.

This year I presented a number of bill because they were requested by local citizens. HB 2513 was introduced per the request of a resident of Guthrie.

HB 2513, which is advocated for by the National Rifle Association, supports our veterans and active duty military personnel by giving them the right to defend themselves and others when they are attending or teaching classes at one of Oklahoma's state colleges and universities, provided they notify the university that they are in possession of a concealed carry license.

Over the past 12 years, more than 60,000 Oklahomans have made the decision to defend themselves by going through the background examination (including mental health record checks) and taking the time to receive training for a concealed carry license.

There appears to be very little evidence that Oklahoma's concealed carry program has been anything less than a sensational success, with very few incidents of inappropriate behavior by the licensees. Certainly, I am not aware of any example of an innocent person being harmed by the inappropriate weapon usage of a concealed carry licensee.

Unfortunately, since the inception of this program, it appears that every state college and university in Oklahoma has put in place a policy that does not allow concealed carry licensees to defend themselves in what is becoming a very dangerous environment; the college campus.

Earlier this year, the Governor received a report from a task force which recommended 16 million dollars be spent on enhancing campus security. This proposed expenditure comes at a time when Oklahomans are already forced to deal with massive tuition increases, high taxes and a government that continues to incur long term debt. What better way to solve some of our security challenges than to take advantage of the training of our military veterans and active duty military personnel who also maintain concealed carry licenses? House Bill 2513 would allow them to defend themselves and their fellow students and teachers. In many cases, these personnel have training that is equal to or exceeds the training of the law enforcement officers charged with protecting our campuses. This is a service that would be provided with little or no cost to the state.

House Bill 2513 also seeks to end the practice of surrounding our campuses with a gun-free bubble. Currently, college campuses are a wide open area which a criminal can enter with confidence, knowing that it is most unlikely that their victims will be able to defend themselves. It seems you can hardly turn on the news without seeing or hearing of another incident of violence committed on a college campus.

Just as they did 12 years ago, the critics of concealed carry will point to any number of possible negative outcomes in allowing the people the right to defend themselves. Fortunately, history has not been kind to those critics, as Oklahomans have proven that they possess the good judgment to defend themselves appropriately. Now, some of the elite in the higher education system are again resorting to the same tired excuses as they attempt to discredit the ability of our military personnel to use good judgment. I believe that we have the finest military in the world and I find it offensive that some in the higher education community have begun to question the judgment of our military men and women. I also believe that just as a strong majority of Oklahoma's State Representatives have been able to see through these excuses, so do a majority of Oklahomans.

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