Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry [official profile] on Tuesday vetoed [press release] legislation [SB 1685 text, RTF] that would have exempted buyers of Oklahoma-made guns from several regulatory precautions including federal criminal background checks. Henry believes that the proposed legislation would "endanger citizens and law enforcement officers" by abolishing "common sense regulations" like background checks and giving criminals easy access to a wide array of weapons. Henry also cited constitutional concerns. Because there is no way to ensure that Oklahoma-manufactured weapons will remain in the state, Henry said that the proposed legislation would likely be seen as violating the Commerce Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] and would therefore be declared unconstitutional if it were challenged in court. State Senator Randy Brogdon, an advocate for the bill, said that he was disappointed [press release] to learn that Henry had vetoed the legislation. Brogdon challenged Henry's assertions that the law would give criminals easy access to firearms and went on to claim that the legislation would actually have "stopped further federal attempts to erode our Constitutional right to protect ourselves and our families." It remains to be seen whether supporters of the bill in the state senate will garner the necessary support to override the veto.
The rights of states and municipalities to regulate firearms under the Second Amendment [text] of the US Constitution have become controversial. Last month, a federal judge ruled that firearms regulations [text] in Washington, DC, including a ban on assault weapons and a prohibition on large capacity ammunition feeding devices [ATF backgrounder], do not violate the Second Amendment [JURIST report]. In upholding the regulations, the judge cited the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller [JURIST report], which struck down an outright ban on handgun ownership in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments [JURIST report] in McDonald v. City of Chicago [oral arguments transcript, PDF] to determine whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to the states, and not just the District of Columbia.