OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a bill on late Friday that would have authorized adults to carry firearms without a permit or training.
The veto comes after opposition from the business community and law enforcement authorities, including top officials with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation who have said it could erode public safety.
Her action is a rare defeat in a deep red state for the National Rifle Association, which supported the bill’s passage and had urged Fallin to sign it.
The bill is similar to so-called “constitutional carry” legislation adopted in a dozen other states. It would have authorized people 21 and older and military personnel who are at least 18 to legally carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, without a state-issued license or permit.
The state currently requires a license to carry a handgun openly or concealed. Law enforcement officials say the measure eliminates firearms training and extensive background checks for applicants.
The bureau of investigation, which issues handgun licenses, had said the bill would cost the agency about $4.7 million annually and result in the loss of about 60 full-time positions.
“The impact on public safety is unquantifiable,” bureau Director Bob Ricks said in a statement.
Many business leaders, including local chambers of commerce, also opposed the bill, giving governor — who cannot run for re-election under term limits — plenty of political cover to veto it.
But the hot-button issue of gun rights energizes Republican voters, particularly those in Republican primaries, said Trebor Worthen, a Republican political strategist.
Several Republican candidates to succeed Fallin as governor urged her to sign it.
“Republican voters believe in the Second Amendment and they believe they should be able to exercise that right with as little interference from the government as possible,” Worthen said. “Especially in more rural areas.”
Fallin has vetoed gun bills before. In 2014, she vetoed a bill requiring state authorities to sign off on applications for federally-regulated items such as silencers, short-barreled rifles and automatic weapons within 15 days. But the Legislature overrode her veto and the bill became law anyway. In 2015, she vetoed legislation that restricted businesses from banning guns at parks, fairgrounds and recreational areas, a veto that remained in place.
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