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'Campus carry' bill won't get far, GOP leaders say

State Sen. Greg Treat speaks alongside state Rep. Jon Echols at Putnam City High School. On Thursday, the two Republican leaders dismissed any chance of a "campus carry" bill becoming law this year. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN]
State Sen. Greg Treat speaks alongside state Rep. Jon Echols at Putnam City High School. On Thursday, the two Republican leaders dismissed any chance of a "campus carry" bill becoming law this year. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN]

Republican leadership in the Oklahoma Legislature have assured Oklahoma City's business community that a proposed campus carry bill won't make it far this year.

Senate Bill 1567 would allow anyone with a valid handgun license to carry a concealed handgun while on a university, college or CareerTech campus. The bill would allow schools to prohibit concealed handguns at events, including sports games.

State Rep. Jon Echols, the Republican who controls the flow of bills and the House daily agenda, expressed clear opposition Thursday during a panel discussion for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

"As long as I'm floor leader, we will not have the guns on campus bill hit the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives," said Echols, R-Oklahoma City.

Chamber members applauded his statement.

Senate leader and Oklahoma City Republican Greg Treat told the Chamber that the state's "constitutional carry" legislation adopted last year faced a tough path because of worries it would apply to college campuses.

"I envision people filing those bills to do that. I do not envision that getting all the way through the process to the governor's desk," Treat said. "I was very supportive of (constitutional carry); I would not be supportive of going further on with college campuses."

The annual event Thursday morning gave Greater Oklahoma City Chamber members a chance to hear from House and Senate leadership, both Democrats and Republicans.

On the question of criminal justice reform, Echols said the House will focus on ways to make sure former prisoners don't return to prison.

The Democrat's leader in the Senate, Kay Floyd, praised the business community for helping push criminal justice reform.

"Five or six years ago, there were a few voices in the wilderness," said Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. "And when the business community embraced the challenge of actually doing a deep dive on criminal justice reform, I think that really changed the trajectory of the state."

Norman House Democrat Emily Virgin endorsed State Question 804, which would change how Oklahoma draws legislative districts. If voters adopt the question, districts would be decided by a nine-member commission, which would be appointed by retired judges. The judges would be picked by the Oklahoma Supreme Court's chief justice.

"(Voters) expect for there to be some sense given to how they are put into a legislative district. And that shouldn't be to keep one party in power, whether it's Democrat or Republican," Virgin said. "Both parties are guilty of gerrymandering and Oklahoma, certainly."

The Republicans on the panel pushed back. Treat said the state question is a power grab, and Echols said he would support a true independent redistricting commission.

"There's nothing independent about this," Echols said.

Dale Denwalt

Dale Denwalt has closely followed state policy and politics since his first internship as an Oklahoma Capitol reporter in 2006. He graduated from Northeastern State University in his hometown of Tahlequah. Denwalt worked as a news reporter in... Read more ›

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