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Gun-rights efforts by Oklahoma officials no surprise

Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux
Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux

Recent events in Oklahoma underscore just how much many elected officials cherish their constitutional right to bear arms. Short answer: a lot.

During the past several weeks, more and more county sheriffs have declared their county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” It began in early February with Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux signing a resolution. Another 20 or so have followed suit in some fashion.

Devereaux’s resolution says no public funds will be used to enact police that curb residents’ Second Amendment rights. He also says he’ll oppose any efforts to restrict the gun rights of lawful Logan County citizens.

His resolution and the others are symbolic. And Devereaux said he’s not concerned about gun rights being restricted in conservative Oklahoma. “But I also know,” he said, “that I get calls from time to time from my citizens talking about some of the legislation that’s being presented at the state level or the federal level where they feel it’s an infringement on their Second Amendment rights.”

The moves by Oklahoma sheriffs follow what happened in Virginia, where after Democrats won control of the General Assembly last year and promised to pursue gun reform in 2020, dozens of conservative localities adopted the sanctuary declaration.

When he signed his resolution, Devereaux said he was trying to blunt any gun control policies or legislation here. He needn’t worry.

A Democratic House member is leading an initiative petition effort to repeal a 2019 law that lets most Oklahomans age 21 and older to carry a gun without a license. Backers must first secure enough signatures to place the question before voters, then hope voters agree with the idea. That’s not a sure thing.

What isn’t in doubt is conservative lawmakers’ defense of gun rights. The latest example is Senate Bill 1081 by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, which would prevent cities and towns from implementing “red flag” policies. These laws, adopted by 17 states and the District of Columbia in recent years following mass shootings, allow guns to be confiscated from people deemed an immediate threat. Generally, a judge makes the determination.

Dahm said his bill ensures that the Legislature would pre-empt “anything dealing with red flag laws here in the state so that no local municipality, county ordinance or any other political subdivision would accept funds or work toward implementing their own form of a red flag law.”

The bill’s original language, removed in committee, went even further, stating, “Any federal statute, rule or executive order, federal or state judicial order or judicial findings that would have the effect of forcing an extreme risk protection order upon a citizen of Oklahoma … shall be null, void, unenforceable and of no effect in the state of Oklahoma.”

Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, argued unsuccessfully that lawmakers should let municipalities make their own decisions. SB 1081 won easy approval in the committee. More of the same is likely as it moves through the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›