Though the new law focuses on gun rights, it could be used to further racial discrimination.
Let’s pretend no one has to get a driver’s license to drive a car. No one has to say whether they have a license unless specifically “demanded” by a police officer.
Driving is a skill you can learn without classes, I get it. So what if one or two people drive without a license who didn’t have the requisite skills? Maybe they crash, maybe they kill a few people. Maybe they have a few bad things going on in their life that make them particularly bad drivers on a given day, maybe they bump someone’s car and drive away because, well, why not.
The thing is, with House Bill 2597, it’s not cars that wouldn’t need licenses — it’s firearms, and firearms have no benign purpose in the way that cars do. They’re made to kill and injure things. Not always people, but enough of the time to matter. While the bill doesn’t strip all restrictions, such as the ban on carrying on campuses and barring people with certain legal offenses from owning a firearm, it is still dangerously lenient.
The bill, passed last Thursday, removes the requirement that people have a license to possess a firearm in Oklahoma. It does, however, institute a rule that if a “person who is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States” were to own a firearm, up to and including toy pistols, they would “be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine” of $250.
Recap: anyone can own a gun, except for people here without proper documentation. And that is in no way going to backfire when America is as racist as ever and starts waylaying every non-white person for possession of anything that looks like a firearm. Sure. It’s in the future, so let’s pretend that this point is still up for debate and move on.
Oklahoma isn’t the first state to approve such a law, which is alternately called “constitutional carry” or “permitless carry,” depending on which side of the issue you fall on.
“Constitutional carry” refers to the right to bear arms. Proponents of the right argue that the Constitution gave them the right to own their guns and the government took that right away. What I’m not clear on is why they think that government can’t change its mind on data. People have killed a lot of people with guns. Guns have gotten more deadly in design over the years. Maybe the government should step in.
More people die from guns in the U.S. than in any other comparable country. Despite these high death estimates, NPR and other news stations report that there is a lack of concrete research into the subject after years of the government stifling funding for studies. The NRA itself has backed efforts to reduce funding for firearm-related research. It would be too easy to say that the numbers of gun deaths are too large for the public to process, though. The problem, unfortunately, isn’t their intelligence. It’s their entitlement.
People think they deserve guns because they are U.S. citizens. They feel that they are so special, so competent and beyond questioning that we should allow them to have whatever they want. How dare they be forced to prove, in a relatively easy and official way, that they will be responsible? The inconvenience of proving all of this and the insult of implying that maybe a couple people who aren’t otherwise barred from having a gun shouldn’t get one is far too much for them. The worst part is that Oklahoma officials have bought into this rhetoric.
Government exists to weed out the worst problems in a society. It’s not here to be your counselor or your friend. It’s here to curb violent death, regulate the economy and generally guard against too much chaos. Just because the federal government isn’t fulfilling these basic premises does not excuse our local government of its obligations.
Sometimes lawmakers go along with these ideas because they agree with them. Entitlement in public officials isn’t new. Worse, though, are the cases when they simply give in to the loudest complaints of the public. Proponents of permitless carry protest and throw money at government and make themselves heard, and legislators think that they have to bow to the wishes of the loudest of their constituents instead of listening to common sense and considering the available information on the issue.
The bill has already been passed and approved by Governor Stitt. It’s too late to hope that it will be changed in this legislative session, and it’s too early to tell if will be a catastrophic failure in public policy or a mere continuation of the status quo. But it is the perfect time to reach the conclusion that we didn’t need the state of gun ownership in America to be worse or remain stable; we needed better laws that reduce mass shootings and firearm deaths in the states. Until that happens, we’ll continue to see innocent people die because government listened to the loudest citizens. The same citizens who are also the most entitled and least willing to suffer minor personal inconveniences like waiting in a line to make the entire state safer