Last week, when this column reported that the Oklahoma House had voted overwhelmingly to override Governor Mary Fallin's veto of the gun rights bill HB 2461, a similar vote in the Senate seemed inevitable. The Senate's original vote on the bill, after all, was 46-2. Failure to obtain the 32 votes for the required 2/3 majority would thus mean that 15 senators would have to decide to submit to Governor Fallin's little temper tantrum.
Now, though, the Tulsa World reports that the Senate Republican "leadership" has no plans to take any vote at all:
Senate Floor Leader Mike Schulz, R-Altus, and Senate Caucus Chairman Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, said the Senate will not pursue a veto override.
They did not rule out the possibility of amending another bill with similar language, and passing that, but they can hardly be said to have pledged to do so. Besides, why go to the trouble of doing that, risking yet another petulant veto of what Fallin refers to as the "minor issue" of her constituents' fundamental human rights, or possibly giving her the option of running out the clock with a pocket veto?
Last week's column noted that Fallin's claimed reason for her veto was decidedly . . . peculiar. According to Fallin, the "minor issue" of Oklahomans' right to keep and bear arms is a waste of the state government's time, so she vetoed the already-passed bill (which, absent the veto, would thus not have required any more of the legislature's time, or hers), "so that we can have more time to deal with major issues here at the Capitol and hopefully get the attention to get those things done."
In the Tulsa World article, she cites another reason for her veto. Unfortunately, it makes little more sense than her "time saving" strategy.
In her veto message, Fallin said HB 2461 was an attempt to regulate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"The ATF is not required to follow the requirements of this bill," Fallin said in her veto message. "This bill serves no significant interest of the citizens of the State of Oklahoma."
HB 2461, remember, would require that when a person jumps through the federal hoops to buy items regulated under the oppressive National Firearms Act (machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, suppressors, etc.), the local chief law enforcement officer ("CLEO") would not have the option of refusing to sign off on the federal paperwork authorizing the purchase. In other words, the bill would do nothing to alter federal law, but would prevent the abuse-prone power of a local police chief or sheriff to arbitrarily deny the purchase of an item that would otherwise have been perfectly legal.
In other words, the bill is in no way "an attempt to regulate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives," and there is no question of the BATFE being "required to follow the requirements of this bill," because it makes no attempt to impose any such requirements.
For a self-proclaimed "staunch defender of our Second Amendment freedoms," Fallin certainly finds some strange reasons to not only decline to defend them, but to undermine the efforts of others to do so. And now the Oklahoma State Senate is enabling her. They need to hear from voters, and quickly.