OKLAHOMA CITY – A proposal that would prohibit private entities from banning firearms in parks, recreational areas or fairgrounds in Oklahoma could threaten dozens of events held in Oklahoma City, including horse shows, basketball tournaments and the Women’s College World Series, the head of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday.
Chamber President Roy Williams said he’s urging the governor to veto the measure, which is headed to the governor’s desk after passing the Senate Tuesday on a 39-7 vote.
“We could potentially lose Women’s College World Series. We could lose all the Big 12 NCAA sporting events. We could potentially lose basketball tournaments, horse shows at the fairgrounds,” Williams said. “And we don’t know what we could potentially lose in the future.”
Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, said the governor is aware of the concerns and is considering whether to sign it.
New language was added to the bill by Rep. Kevin Calvey after promoters of a Norman music festival tried to ban guns at an outdoor concert there last month. Calvey said he was never approached by anyone with concerns about the bill.
“I would think those concerns are misplaced,” said Calvey, a Republican from Oklahoma City. “It just says you can’t use a parade permit or festival permit or something like that to get around the laws that currently allow concealed carry permit holders to carry in public places.”
Bill Whitehill, an Oklahoma City attorney who specializes in business law, says the law is vaguely written, but would clearly prohibit event sponsors from banning firearms at parks, recreational areas or fairgrounds. He said that could include venues such as the softball fields where the annual Women’s College World Series is held or the state fairgrounds, which hosts numerous horse shows and the state high school basketball tournament.
“I’d say the bill is vague, ambiguous and not well thought out, frankly,” Whitehill said.
Tim Brassfield, executive director of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association, a non-profit corporation responsible for bringing large sporting events to the state, said the association just signed a 20-year contract with the NCAA to host the Women’s College World Series through 2035.
Brassfield said he’s concerned the bill could threaten the contract, which prohibits weapons of any kind at the venue.
“It would threaten it in a great way, as well as for future events,” Brassfield said.
Senate Bill 41: http://bit.ly/1PpIlbP