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Oklahoma Lawmakers Debate Over Gun Rights At State Capitol

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On two different occasions during the 2012 legislative session, one lawmaker called for a measure allowing legislators to carry a gun in the capitol. [File Photo] On two different occasions during the 2012 legislative session, one lawmaker called for a measure allowing legislators to carry a gun in the capitol. [File Photo]
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The passage of several laws will allow licensed gun owners to openly carry a firearm. Attorneys working for the Attorney General's office will also join prosecutors and judges with the privilege of carrying a gun.

While one lawmaker pushed for the same rights for legislators in the 2012 session, the majority decided to keep the capitol gun free.

On two different occasions during the 2012 legislative session, one lawmaker called for a measure allowing legislators to carry a gun in the capitol.

"The last thing anyone would want for them to have some of their heated interviews or arguments and have guns right there at their hands," Doug Friesen said.

Friesen is a gun rights attorney, but remains skeptical of Representative John Bennett's idea to arm lawmakers.

Bennett could not be reached by phone, but reportedly cited fear of enemies for the purpose of his proposal. Still, Bennett's colleagues rejected one of the proposals by a 55-32 vote.

Lawmakers would go on to pass several bills expanding gun rights in Oklahoma without giving themselves the privilege. We found out 19 lawmakers voted in favor of passing an open carry law, but then voted against both proposals to arm legislators.

"Personally I think we should have a right of self defense no matter who we are or where we work," Senator Steve Russell said.

Russell did not get the opportunity to weigh in on the issue, because the proposal did not make it that far in the legislative process. By trade, Russell makes rifles and is pro-gun rights, but like most lawmakers, he is in support of keeping the capitol gun free.

"I don't think we ought to single out lawmakers of having some right above anybody else," Russell said.

We spoke with several lawmakers by phone who also tell us it all comes down to not giving lawmakers more of a privilege than the average citizen.

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