Oklahoma State Senator SteveRussell of Oklahoma City is theCCRKBA Gun Rights Defender ofthe Month for March.“During this time of stress forbelievers in the right to keep andbear arms when officials of variouskinds seek to undermine Americans’gun rights, it is most gratifyingthat officials such as Sen. Russellstand up so forcefully in defenseof our rights,” said John M. Snyder,CCRKBA Public Affairs Director,in nominating the Oklahoman forthe CCRKBA Gun Rights Defenderof the Month Award. “He is mostdeserving of this distinction.”Russell demonstrated this recentlywhen Oklahoma Police Chief BillCitty came out publicly in supportof tougher anti-gun laws. Cittyreportedly stated that although hesupports an individual’s right toown a gun, “he sees no practicalreason why someone needs an AR-15 or similar weapon,” according toBryan Dean of newsok.com.Dean pointed out that “a federalban on assault weapons outlawedthe AR-15 and other semiautomaticversions of assault rifles, along withhigh-capacity magazines” expired in2004.In reaction, Russell wrote “Istrongly disagree with (Citty’s) viewthat certain types of military-stylefirearms inherently pose a greatpublic threat.“City Councilmen Sam Bowmanand Pete White have supportedCitty’s stance and share the beliefthat these types of weapons have noplace in civil communities. I considerthese comments to be uncivil to thehundreds of thousands of law-abidingOklahoma gun owners. Moreimportantly, efforts to impose theseviews on all citizens are a danger to ourguaranteed Oklahoma and UnitedStates constitutional freedoms.”Russell wrote that, “As co-chairmanof the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committeeand as a member of both Senatepublic safety committees, I call on Cittyto provide the data that shows thesetypes of weapons are used extensivelyin crime and pose a greater threatstatistically than any other commonlyheld and legally purchased type offirearm.“There is simply no empirical evidenceto support his claim. Accordingto the FBI, crime has dropped 14percent since 2004, the period he citesas when the so-called ban on militaryweapons expired. The fact is theseweapons were never banned but onlycertain modifications to them were.”Russell charged “Citty’s proposal ofregistration or titling of such weaponsviolates Oklahoma’s constitution.Furthermore, being able to protectourselves with the type of firearm wefeel most comfortable with is a part ofour federal constitutional freedoms.These are basic rights – not privilegesbestowed on us by benevolent politicians.His views are something onemight hear in San Francisco but arenot welcome in Oklahoma. Citty alsoneeds to be mindful that Section Two,Article 26 of the Oklahoma Constitutionprohibits any such action as heproposes.“Citty states that he cannot imaginewhy anyone would want to ownsuch a weapon. On behalf of tens ofthousands of active serving and veteranmilitary, I find such commentsan affront to the law-abiding citizen.Many soldiers keep such arms tomaintain shooting proficiency andmany veterans develop an affinitywith such weapons they carried inthe service, even though these aresemi-auto only and are not automaticof the type carried in the service.Tens of thousands of Oklahomanskeep and bear such weapons with nothreat to the public. The implicationthat these citizens are either crazedor criminals is offensive.”Russell is the sponsor of severalpro-gun bills in the Oklahoma StateSenate, including one that wouldallow any adult to openly carry afirearm and another to permit concealedhandguns on college campuses.Under Sen. Russell’s proposal, anyonewith a valid concealed handgunlicense would be allowed to carry afirearm on campus, although collegesor universities still would be able toprohibit firearms at sporting eventsand other “access-controlled” events.Sen. Russell also filed a bill that wouldallow anyone 18 or older to openlycarry a holstered firearm, even if heor she does not have a concealedcarry permit.Elected to the Senate in 2008, LTCRussell retired after serving 21 yearsin the US Army in Airborne Lightand Mechanized assignments inthe Arctic, the desert, the Pacific, inEurope and in the continental UnitedStates. He served more than sevenyears overseas and has deployedoperationally to Kosovo, Kuwait,Afghanistan and Iraq.Highly decorated, Russell hasreceived the Legion of Merit, theBronze Star Medal with Valor Deviceand Oak Leaf Cluster, the CombatInfantryman’s Badge, the ValorousUnit Award and also holds the Airborneand Ranger Qualifications.