By Payton Mccalip
At a time when the entire nation is thinking about gun control, the Oklahoma legislature is considering a bill that would loosen restrictions for open and concealed carry. Oklahoma House Bill 2951 would legalize open carry of a firearm without a license by those 21 and older, with exception to those 18 and older who are currently serving in the armed forces or have served.
Although the bill was introduced in January, questions about what measures to take in order to reduce gun violence are rampant. While students activists across the country advocate for more gun restrictions, Oklahoma seems to be going in the opposite direction.
Less than days after the shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School, there have been numerous threats, mainly through social media. In Moore, OK, a student was arrested after police were made aware of a supposed “kill list” containing the names of other students, and a threat was made about the Union 9th grade center via Instagram.
This has led to a local debate over which measures to take, much like that of the national debate. What seems to set the aftermath of this shooting apart from that of previous shootings, is the voice of the students from Stoneman Douglas. This has triggered a national event of students protests. On March 14th local students and students across the country took part in a school walkout, for 17 minutes. The “March for Our Lives” protest is scheduled to take place on March 24th. Considering the outspoken voices of teenagers, several local high school students weighed in on this bill.
“I believe you should have to have a license. If you have to require a license to drive a vehicle that can do as much damage as a gun, you should require a license for carrying a gun too.”
“I believe you should have to have a license. If you have to require a license to drive a vehicle that can do as much damage as a gun, you should require a license for carrying a gun too,” said Alyssa Gosnell, a junior as Broken Arrow Public High School.
“I think it’s unnecessary for someone who isn’t a police officer or security guard to just carry around a gun,” said Rachel Portman, a homeschooled junior who is returning to public school next semester.
These were some of the reactions from local high school students when asked about this bill. Gosnell said she was going to the March for Our Lives protest, taking place not only in Oklahoma, but across the nation.
“Before recent events, I used to be more liberal in terms of my views on firearms.” This was how Sarah Faerber, a 16-year-old sophomore at Booker T. Washington High School, said her views had changed in light of recent events. Portman had different thoughts, “I have always been in favor of more gun control, and the shooting made me upset with our government and school security on how this still keeps happening,” she said.
She also expressed how disappointed she was when she found out the Assault Weapons Ban failed to pass The Florida House of Representatives, and how one day she hopes to see meaningful gun legislation passed.
While the opinions of the students were very diverse on the broad topic of guns in general, there was a clear consensus regarding who should be armed, if anyone, inside a school. The students universally agreed that teachers should not be armed, but armed security is a necessity.
“I think that hypothetically this bill will negatively impact the citizens of Oklahoma because it lessens the amount of regulation and vigilance that currently surrounds gun owners and prospective gun owners. However, the regulations that go along with open carry licensing are fairly loose and baseline. Therefore, the difference in outcome may not be large,” said Faerber about the impact of the bill on Oklahoma.
This bill, along with others currently in the legislative process, is reflective of a national trend. In the aftermath of a tragic school shooting, many states across the nation have attempted to or succeeded at passing stricter gun laws. While other states, Oklahoma included, have attempted to or succeeded at passing laws that loosen gun regulations.
California implemented a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of any firearm. Florida implemented a raise in the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, while the Kentucky legislature has failed to pass new restrictions, but are currently considering a bill that would allow school faculty to carry a weapon. The country seems to unanimously agree that something must be done, but the question of what to do does not seem to be as easy to answer.