The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 4, 2013

Okla. panel OKs several gun-carry expansion bills

By Dan Holtmeyer
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Measures that would let judges, private investigators and public bus passengers carry guns sailed through an Oklahoma Senate committee Thursday.

The Senate Public Safety Committee approved six gun-related bills Thursday and sent them to the full Senate. All have already passed the House, but one would have to go back to the lower chamber for concurrence in an amendment.

Bills passed without opposition would let firearms instructors have larger classes and make renewing licenses easier. Others would let private investigators carry concealed weapons, let district and municipal judges carry weapons with adequate training and restore gun rights in a quicker manner to people cleared of criminal accusations.

The only measure that met opposition was Republican Sen. Rob Johnson's proposal to let public bus passengers with gun licenses carry concealed or unconcealed handguns. Currently only law enforcement officers can do so. The committee passed the bill 5-2.

After the meeting, Johnson told The Associated Press that law-abiding citizens should be able to defend themselves even within the confines of a public bus.

"The Second Amendment shouldn't stop at the door of the city bus, in my opinion," he said, noting some people depend on public transportation to get around.

Johnson said he was aware of at least one previous incident in which a bus was hijacked.

"A criminal came along took the driver hostage," Johnson said. "Basically, the person in the back seat could've had a gun and avoided it all."

Johnson's bill is a toned-down version of a bill that has passed the House and applied to all "public transportation." He said legislative leaders had raised concerns that "public transportation" might be construed to include airplanes and taxis. Because Johnson narrowed its scope, the bill will have to go back to the House if it passes the Senate.