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by Edmond Geary

Oklahoma Laws on Open Carry of Guns

Not to be outdone by Arizona, Oregon, Missouri and other states, the Oklahoma legislature has been considering enactment of a law to permit the “open carry” of firearms.  Various states have various laws permitting such display of guns.  Some states permit such practice only with a permit.  Other states permit the practice but it is subject to municipal restrictions.  Vermont has no restrictions on the open carry of firearms.

Of course, the local police often have interpretations different than the plain reading of the law.  As criminal defense attorneys in Oklahoma, police routinely demand of homeowners if “they have any guns in the house.”  The police then seize the guns, regardless that the guns or their possession have nothing to do with the reason the police were called to the citizen’s home.  Then the police, regardless of lacking any legal basis for their possession of these guns, refuse to release the guns until forced by a court order to do so.

A proposal in the Oklahoma House of Representatives was recently killed as result of legislative procedures.  However, a proposal is still alive in the House to allow gun carry permit-holders, now required to carry guns concealed at all times, to also carry them out in the open.

Representative Sue Tibbs of Tulsa sponsored HB 2538.  She accepted an amendment to her bill by Rep. David Derby of Owasso, allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry the weapons in the open.  She had also accepted an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City to allow any person to carry a rifle, shotgun or pistol at any time if the person had a reasonable fear of bodily harm.

Rep. Reynolds then spoke against his own amendment because, if his amendment failed, he could introduce a stronger open-carry amendment. He was unhappy that Rep. Tibbs filed an amendment that took the title off the bill, which meant that it eventually would have to go through the committee process.

Reynolds wanted his amendment voted on with a recorded vote so that gun rights advocates could see how legislators voted.  Before a vote could be taken, however, Rep. Tibbs accepted the amendment.  Rep. Jeff Hickman, presiding in the House, then asked for a voice vote on Reynold’s amendment, and, upon that voice vote, Hickman declared the amendment adopted.  At that point, Hickman realized his mistake.  He had called for the vote and left off the amendment.

Rep. Tibbs then said she will not bring up her bill for consideration this session.  Rep. Derby’s amendment allowing concealed carry permit-holders to carry the weapons in the open may get new life, however.  Rep. Rex Duncan of Sand Springs says he will try to place this amendment into one of his proposals, HB 3354, which deals with the carrying of weapons.   Amendments may be added to legislation if they have the same general subject matter as the legislation to which they are added.

Rep. Tibbs held her N.R.A. card up for all to see during the debate on her bill.  She also stated she herself has a concealed-carry permit. She claimed that this was not one of the N.R.A.’s priorities, that this “is not an N.R.A. bill.”  Nevertheless, Tim Gillespie, vice president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, said he is disappointed the measure failed.