Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill making Oklahoma a Second Amendment Sanctuary despite some questions if it will hold up in court.
Oklahoma joined Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, and Arizona, plus hundreds of counties nationwide, in declaring themselves a Second Amendment Sanctuary — a state that declares any law or order to confiscate or buy back firearms to be unconstitutional. Texas lawmakers are also considering a similar measure.
Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris was among several Oklahoma sheriffs to declare their counties a Second Amendment Sanctuary last year — and he advocates the state's governor signing the bill into law.
“I think it’s good, anything that he does to protect our state and our citizens’ constitutional rights,” Morris said. “I don’t think that the government is going to come after our guns, but I think we need everything in place so that they don’t.”
The Second Amendment was ratified in the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15, 1791 and states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Legal and academic experts vary on interpretations of the Second Amendment — one being it creates individual constitutional rights for citizens to own guns, the other is that the Framers wanted to restrict Congress from outlawing state militias
The Supreme Court affirmed in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 that rights to bear arms lie with individuals, but not without limitations.
District 7 State Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, authored Senate Bill 631 as “state preemption of federal infringement of Second Amendment rights” and said he was grateful to see it signed into law.
He said in a press release that the bill protects citizens from President Joe Biden’s recent call for legislation to strengthen background checks relating to gun ownership.
“This is especially pertinent now given the attacks on our Second Amendment rights by the Biden administration,” Hamilton said in a press release.
Hamilton represents Pittsburg, Latimer and Haskell counties, and portions of Hughes and Okfuskee counties — all of which filed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions.
Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, was the bill’s House principal author, with 15 senators and 25 representatives as co-authors — including Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, and Rep. David Smith, R-Arpelar.
It went into immediate effect, but could face future legal challenges.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an advisory opinion in 2019 that Second Amendment Sanctuaries “have no legal effect.”
Herring cited Virginia’s constitution and state code in a four-page opinion that the resolutions “neither have the force of law nor authorize localities or local constitutional officials to refuse to follow or decline to enforce gun violence prevention measures.”
Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, told the Tulsa World in 2020 that the organization agrees that Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions don’t have power of law, but they have “power of intent.”
Morris declined comment on whether a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution or law would hold up in court, but said it makes a statement.
“It’s saying ‘this is where we stand on this law’ and we all do everything we can in our power to protect you and your rights,” Morris said.
“As long as I’m the sheriff, we will never enforce any laws that will infringe on our county residents’ constitutional rights,” Morris said.
The Associated Press and Tulsa World contributed to this report.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at email@example.com