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Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Governor, Keeps Her Gun Control Focus On Mental Health

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WASHINGTON -- Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is taking a "wait and see" approach to a series of pro-gun bills that are working their way through her state's legislature. Fallin said she is more focused on the mental health aspects of the gun control debate.

In her latest budget plan, the governor has called for additional money for mental health services. She said this will aid the efforts of both health professionals and law enforcement to reduce gun violence.

As for the legislature's proposals, "the bills are still going through the process," Fallin said, speaking to The Huffington Post during the National Governors Association meeting In Washington this past weekend. "We have to wait and see how the legislation comes out."

Last month, Fallin sounded a similar theme when she told HuffPost she was withholding judgment on guns-for-teachers legislation until lawmakers took a final action. In terms of school safety, she said she was waiting for the findings of a study commission chaired by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb (R).

This past weekend, Fallin, who serves as vice chairwoman of the National Governors Association, did not say whether Lamb's commission had endorsed the idea of teachers carrying guns. Under a bill sponsored by state Rep. Mark McCullough (R-Salupa), teachers could be trained as reserve police officers in order to carry guns and provide security in the schools.

Other pending Oklahoma gun bills include a measure to prohibit the enforcement of federal gun bans in Oklahoma against firearms that are made in the state and stay there. Several states have taken up legislation that would entirely bar the enforcement of federal gun bans, while Kansas and Missouri are looking at proposals similar to Oklahoma's.

Oklahoma lawmakers are also considering a bill that would prohibit doctors, except for psychiatrists, from asking about gun ownership. The American Society of Pediatrics recommends the question as part of a series of routine home safety inquiries.

Kansas lawmakers have before them a bill that would likewise restrict doctors' communication with patients. Florida passed a similar law in 2011; it was found unconstitutional in 2012 by a federal court.

On a personal note, Fallin said she has received the concealed-carry permit she requested for her own gun. She said that she does not intend to carry the gun with her while governor because she has an armed security detail. But the permit will allow her to carry the gun after she leaves office, she said, and also gives her a certain flexibility now.

"I like to have the ability to own a gun and carry a gun," Fallin said. "It is a personal freedom I choose to exercise."

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