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Gun bills by Coody advance to Senate

Two gun-related bills by Rep. Jeff Coody have made it to the Senate after easily winning approval from House members last week.

House Bill 2323 would allow residents who meet certain criteria to carry a pistol, concealed or unconcealed, loaded or unloaded, in their vehicle, without possessing a valid handgun license. It also would allow residents who meet certain criteria to carry a rifle or shotgun, concealed or unconcealed but unloaded, in their vehicle at any time. House Bill 2322 clarifies some provisions in the Oklahoma Firearms Act, specifying that municipalities and other political subdivisions of the state may not pass regulations in violation of the provisions of that act and setting guidelines for court awards for anyone who is "adversely affected" by political subdivisions that do so in violation of state law.

HB 2323 passed the House Tuesday on a 70-16 vote and had its first reading in the Senate Wednesday, but had not been assigned to a committee as of Friday. HB 2322 passed the House Monday by a 76-10 vote and had its first reading in the Senate Tuesday, but has not been assigned to a committee.

The bills aren't without controversy. The Oklahoma Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (commonly called Moms Demand Action) is strongly opposed to HB 2323, which members call a dangerous permitless carry bill. Members of Moms Demand Action were among those who testified before the House's Public Safety Committee in February, arguing that passage of the bill was dangerous because it would allow some violent criminals and people with no firearms training to carry loaded guns in their vehicles without a permit.

The organization, which traces its founding to the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, has opposed this and other gun legislation being considered across the nation.

Coody, a Grandfield Republican, argues that the bills are reasonable and give responsible citizens a measure of safety. He already lost one fight related to firearms in his freshman term. In the 2016 session, he failed to get traction on a bill that would have allowed people meeting certain criteria to openly carry firearms without handgun licenses. He didn't run the bill this year.

"I felt that this session was not the time for it," he said, adding that he does believe there is support for his HB 2323. "The thinking is: your auto is an extension of your home and often times, you need the ability to defend yourself, especially a business person who is carrying money to and from the bank, home or business. And, if you're going on a trip across the state, you deserve the ability to defend yourself without having to go apply for a permit, then pay a fee."

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