Law-abiding gun owners should not face felony charges and jail time for simply boarding a bus with a firearm, according to the author of a bill approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Thursday.
Under current law, anyone found boarding a bus or other form of public transportation with a firearm, concealed or otherwise, is guilty of a felony. House Bill 1558, by state Rep. Paul Wesselhöft and state Sen. Kyle Loveless, would allow licensed gun owners to board a bus with their firearm without fear of reprimand. The legislation was approved by a 79-12 vote and proceeds to the Oklahoma Senate for a final vote to determine whether it will be sent on to the governor’s desk.
“In my time in the Legislature, I have run into so many curious laws on the books,” said Wesselhöft. “Law-abiding gun owners aren’t familiar with these obscure statutes regarding guns, but they could face a felony charge. The intent of the Second Amendment is to give individuals the right to defend themselves. When state law makes it so complicated and difficult to exercise that right then reform is needed. I think that’s why we saw bipartisan support of the bill.”
Wesselhöft said the main concern of opponents is a misguided fear of law-abiding gun owners.
“The data is very clear on this,” he said. “Criminal and mentally ill individuals who do not legally have access to guns are the ones that are using them to hurt people. It is not common for a law-abiding gun owner, like the ones this bill supports, to commit crimes.”
The bill has now moved to the senate for consideration.