The Norman Transcript

State/Region

February 14, 2013

Bill would allow some ex-felons to have guns

OKLAHOMA CITY — A plan to allow some convicted felons to have the right to own a firearm restored was derailed Wednesday in a House committee after numerous objections to what kind of criminal may be allowed to carry a gun.

Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, agreed to lay over his bill in the House Public Safety Committee after several members of the committee raised questions and suggested they would vote against it. By laying the bill over, it can still be amended or brought back before the committee for a vote.

The bill would allow individuals convicted of a nonviolent felony who have completed their sentence and probationary period to have their right to own a firearm restored, including their ability to apply for a handgun permit.

“Multiple young dads and moms have contacted me pleading with me to address this issue,” Russ said. “They can’t even take their young sons bird hunting.”

Russ said he’s learned of many people who have received felony convictions for crimes like writing bogus checks or larceny who will never be allowed to own any type of firearm without a full pardon from the governor, a process he said is difficult and rare.

“Oklahoma is one of the most notorious states in the nation for incarceration. You can’t hardly sneeze without getting a felony,” Russ said. “These are people who made a mistake that they took a felony plea on, and now they’re in a situation where they can’t grow up with their children and their family and enjoy hunting and wildlife activities that most people in my area enjoy.”

But Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, said she was surprised to learn that under Oklahoma law, there are dozens of serious crimes that are considered nonviolent offenses, including drug trafficking, child pornography, bombing and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

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