There was a time when Republicans championed a society with fewer government-imposed restrictions. With all due respect to Alexander Hamilton, they preferred a bottom-up structure, giving more weight to local leadership than blanket mandates from Washington, D.C.

But these days, when it comes to controlling the public, Republicans at the state level seem more in tune with their Democratic counterparts against whom they so vociferously complained about government overreach. Dog-whistle politics have taken center stage, and red-herring legislation is tossed out and signed into law, based on the insistence that square pegs can be forced through round holes and that outright lies can be twisted into the truth.

What Oklahoma mayor in his or her right mind would try to force rigid gun control upon a hapless citizenry? There's no evidence of it, unless allowing private business owners to ban guns from their premises can be warped into an assault on the Second Amendment. Perhaps a mayor somewhere suggested protesters bristling with weapons, bearing "Open [insert city] now!" signs and screaming threats might not be such a good idea, especially after the spate of shootings over pandemic protocols. But most Oklahomans are Second Amendment advocates, and their elected officials are the same - even if they favor some restrictions. Yet a group of legislators saw fit, via Senate Bill 1081, to create an "anti-red flag law" to protect innocent civilians from that cadre of evil mayors who want to take their guns.

While Americans may disagree on what level of "gun control" is prudent, if any, no one is trying to "take our guns," and no one ever will. Heaven help the fools sent to take them, for many wouldn't survive the mission. But reality has no bearing on the most extreme pro-gun groups, any more than it has a bearing on extreme leftists. The lie that continues to circulate about former President Obama's attempts to seize our gun makes its champions look sillier by the day.

About a third of the population doesn't seem to need evidence to support whatever they want to believe, so when one of their idols tells them the Second Amendment is under widespread attack, they don't question the veracity of the claim. When a politician whom they support insists that thousands of third-trimester abortions are being performed by nefarious doctors in their city, they take it at face value. The same is true for leftists told by pundits that a candidate will strip women of their rights - as if they could! While these gullible and biased people may insist they've done their "research," what they're really doing is embracing the ramblings of blowhards on disreputable, partisan websites that have no credibility among an intelligent, discerning public.

The anti-red flag law might seem a reasonable safeguard to many, but there's another possible motive: The continued trend of those in the executive branch - both state and federal - to gather power unto themselves in grotesquely autocratic fashion. A hint of intent can be seen in SB 1102, which strips authority from local officials during health emergencies and hands it to the governor. What it means in the short term is that Gov. Kevin Stitt can theoretically override any decision made by Tahlequah Mayor Sue Catron, Police Chief Nate King or anyone else local voters have chosen to lead them. But in the long term, it's a safe bet that if a Democratic governor should succeed Stitt, the Legislature would remove that power quicker than you can say "partisan politics."

Sadly, many politicians are only against government overreach if it intrudes on their own personal agenda. When that overreach gives them what they want, it's perfectly OK - even if it must be propped up by falsehoods and fabrications. If "partisanship is a disease," as local Libertarian Party Chairman Shannon Grimes likes to say, these two bills need to be quarantined.

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