Dumb and Dumber
Men and women go up to the Capitol and lose their way, we have seen it time and time again and those people aren't always elected officials. Activists sell out, group leaders sell out even more often, but the worst are those that generate a massive ego and think they can manipulate the legislators and eventually their own members and supporters. In that process they quickly lose the respect of the legislators and the support of their own supporters as the dichotomy builds.
An excellent case of this reared its head this week over SB6, a senate bill that started out as a way to exempt elected officials from some of Oklahoma's gun laws and allow them to carry a concealed or open weapon when performing their official duties. OK2A, one of the gun groups in the state had pushed for this, bragged about getting it filed actually, while a lot of conservatives looked askew at the idea of creating a special class of citizen that was allowed to have their Second Amendment rights while the rest of us remained unprotected.
Near mid week OK2A called for phone calls and emails, after earlier posting confusing messages about supporting or not supporting the legislation. Finally OK2A made up their mind and asked members to support the legislation and then raised hell when the bill failed to pass. Then they changed their mind once again and claimed:
"We were inadvertently and wrongly informed because it was proper last year but the rule changed this year. It sucks but it happens, there are a lot of rules to keep up with."
What had happened was that OK2A had come up with an idea to sneak changes to the bill at the last minute on the House floor instead of following House Rules. The bill had passed committee with a lot of reservations from a lot of committee members because it set up a special class of citizens but the good guys voted on it because OK2A and the NRA supported the legislation and didn't want to appear to be anti 2nd Amendment.
The problem is that the OK2A plan was to offer a floor amendment by the author Rep. Jeff Coody and that amendment was illegal as hell and against House Rules. To pass would have required 71 votes to suspend House Rules and with the majority of the Republican RINOs voting against the amendments that would have restored constitutional carry and slashed the OSBI budget by about 15% we are certain that the legislation would not have passed. Had OK2A lobbied to add the amendments in the House Committee the senate bill would have passed. But they thought they could sneak it past leadership, never a good idea, and pass the legislation with 51 votes.
One legislator said the bill had gone from the Mother of All Bills to the Brother in law of All Bills, and the author had no choice but to strike the title and send it to Conference Committee to keep the legislation alive. Keep in mind this was a senate bill that had already passed so any changes meant the bill automatically headed to Conference Committee where House and Senate members would negotiate the changes and resubmit it to both chambers. There the bill could be gutted totally and reworked, but never on the House floor and that has been the House Rule for many, many, years.
Now, this same issue, constitutional carry, was killed in the Senate last year after the House passed the bill easily. The Senate conferees, the Senate portion of the Conference Committee refused to allow the bill to pass through to the House. What do you think the chances are this year of getting them to support the very same legislation? Zero, nada, zip….
Worse was the furor OK2A stirred up after the failure of the legislation. They couldn't admit that their plan was flawed and useless and caused the failure so they claimed that DPS (state troopers), OSBI, Game Wardens, and a laundry list of other organizations lobbied against the passage. And part of that was a bald face lie according to several legislative sources and even from OK2A members themselves on the OK2A Facebook page. OK2A went so far as to claim that taxpayer money was used by the three agencies to oppose the legislation.
At the end of the vote OK2A sent out an email and posted the same on their Facebook page claiming they were done in by OSBI, the Game Wardens, and by OHP/DPS. This is from their email:
"You may have seen the fierce opposition letters came out today including the State Game Warden Association and the Highway Patrol...all on public dollars. The complete list of the opposition will be listed."
Almost immediately OK2A's own members rebelled at the misinformation. Here is some of the comments off the OK2A's own Facebook page:
"I don't like the county elected official's bill, they need to live by the same laws as the rest of us. THEY ARE NOT SPECIAL."
"Twice now this site has led me astray and embarrassed me. OK2A tells me certain agencies like Game Wardens and OSBI are trying to block Constitutional carry. You ask me to write them letters so I do. I then get returned emails stating the info you put out is false and the agencies are in full support of 2A. You guys need to get your act together. I'll not be getting upset and sending emails to folks you advertise are standing in the way of 2A ever again."
OK2A replied and dug the hole deeper:
Oklahoma Second Amendment Association You have NOT been lead astray. We have provided of the (sic) email put out by the organization just yesterday morning against SB6! They are telling you one thing and doing another!! We have provided proof they are against your rights. Hillary said she supported the Second Amendment too."
That led OK2A members to lash out even harder as their leaderhship wouldn't accept responsibility for the untruths told:
"I had the Director of the OSBI call me and explain they are forbidden from expressing opinions on legislation but he personally supported Constitutional carry. The Wildlife Dept said they are totally in support of pro 2A laws, they hold firearms training for youth and would never support anti 2A legislation. They said the Okla 2A (sic) claims were totally false."
"The game wardens association sent me an email saying that they were not lobbying anything on it."
And what was the real truth? Who was and who was not against SB6?
Officially OSBI did not take a direct opposition stance: neither did the Game Wardens Association; however a few of the Game Wardens did talk to a few of their supporters in the legislature. Keeping in mind that the Game Warden Association is a private group, not tax dollar supported, and they have a right to do this. OHP and DPS, they were quite as a church mouse as they knew some of the supporters of this bill held their agency budget in their hands. There was zero real opposition from DPS and the State Troopers that we have found out about.
Yes, there was a long list of RINO and liberal organizations and lobbyists that did lobby against the bill but that is always expected and had the bill changes occurred in committee 51 votes would have passed the legislation and there were 51 votes to pull that off. After all the same legislation passed the House last year, right?
The real problem was this is not an election year and this is an election year bill. You want the legislators terrified of their vote on the bill being used against them in a primary or general election. You keep your powder dry and time the legislation accordingly if you have any brains. Besides, with the budget occupying center stage and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding still missing this is not the time for a pissing match against legislators that didn't support a bill that was illegally amended and had zero chance of passing with 71 votes to suspend House Rules.
We heard some scathing comments from legislators against OK2A and specifically against one of their leaders Don Spencer:
"I was disappointed in OK2A after seeing the way this was handled, not impressed at all."
"The Game Wardens said they had nothing to do with this, the ones that I know were silent and didn't call legislators."
"This comes after they blamed the entire freshman caucus for another bill dying, lied about it, then they took down their Facebook posts after a few legislators confronted them."
"If OK2A says NRA sponsored any particular legislation most legislators will call the NRA to check if that is true."
The reality is what we have been saying for over a year, OK2A and the two men running it have worn out a lot of welcome with a lot of legislators over their scorched earth tactics against legislators that generally support what they do. The problem is that OK2A asks for the impossible, then resorts to lies to cover up their inept leadership. The simple fact is that SB 6 couldn't be amended on the House Floor without a super majority vote, OK2A should have known this basic rule, a rule that hasn't changed in many years. Was OSBI losing a large chunk of budget? Yes. Was the OSBI involved at the Agency level? No. Were the Troopers involved? No. Were the Game Wardens involved at the Agency level? No.
I've heard that Will Rodgers once said that he had given himself more grief than any man he had ever met and I suspect that this is the case with OK2A's leadership. Thanks to their ineptitude any chance of constitutional carry is most likely dead for 2017.