Friday, March 25, 2022

House passes bill that protects firearm entities in gov't contracts

 Rep. Kevin West Bill Protects Firearm Entities in Government Contracts

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, on Wednesday passed a bill out of the House  that would disallow the state of Oklahoma to contract with any company that discriminates against the firearms industry.  

"This is a constitutionally protected industry, and the majority of Oklahomans are very much in favor of protecting Second Amendment rights," West said. "Yet there are those in the firearms business being discriminated against based solely on the nature of their product. Therefore, I think it's very appropriate that we add language surrounding state contracts, which use taxpayer dollars, to protect these entities and one of our fundamental rights."

West pointed to a 2013 program codenamed Operation Chokepoint under the Obama Administration that intended to deny “disfavored” industries essential services such as banking, payment processing, and insurance – something he called a terrible abuse of government power. The firearm industry was a primary target of this operation. The program was ended by the Trump Administration in 2016, but West said many of America’s largest companies have since privatized it for all intents and purposes. This threatens an industry that is necessary for citizens to be able to exercise their constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights.

House Bill 3144 is a request from the firearm industry trade association the National Shooting Sports Foundation and is supported by the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association. West said this was one of the pieces of legislation that came out of an interim study he held over the summer that examined ways to attract firearms manufacturers to locate in the state.

The measure provides that a governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for the purchase of goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it does not have a practice, policy, guidance, or directive that discriminates against a firearm entity or firearm trade association based solely on firearms. The bill further  specifies that the company will not discriminate during the term of the contract. This requirement does not apply to governmental entity contracts with sole-source providers or to a governmental entity that does not receive a bid from a company that is able to provide written verification.

West said he allowed the title on the bill to be struck, which will allow him to adjust the language as needed to address concerns as the measure continues through the legislative process.

If the bill becomes law, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services would be charged with ensuring government contracts comply with this new language.

HB3144 now moves to the Senate where it is authored by Casey Murdock, R-Felt.

Kevin West serves District 54 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of Moore in Cleveland and Oklahoma counties.


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