On Friday, Oklahoma joined 15 other states that now allow people to carry a gun without a permit or license. Well that’s smart given the nationwide mass-shooting incidents we’ve seen just over the course of the past few months.
Oklahoma joins Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming in allowing for permit-less carry, or “constitutional carry.” In February, Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 2597 into law.
Under the law, Oklahomans who are over the age of 21 are legally allowed to carry a firearm without a permit. If you are in the military, you only must be 18-years-old.
Unfortunately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Oklahoma lawmaker’s request for an emergency stay and injunction with the hopes of stopping the new law from going into effect today on grounds of the new law being “unconstitutional.”
By and through counsel, Oklahoma City Rep. Jason Lowe (OKC-D) argued that the bill violated a rule in Oklahoma’s constitution that states bills can only address one topic—believing it to be an extremely dangerous law, if passed.
However, Oklahoma County District Judge Don Andrews ruled that plaintiffs had failed to prove the law would cause irreparable harm to them if it were allowed to take effect.
The Second Amendment has been a politically-sensitive issue for as long as we have known, especially this year with the horrific massacres, including, but not limited to Texas, Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Las Vegas.
The legal associated with it seems to seriously outweigh any potential benefits the law aims to bring.
To the average gun carrier, there is an argument that this will provide a “level playing field with criminals.” Following the logic of this argument, criminals aren’t going to get a license for their guns, so why should everyone else be at a disadvantage?
“It penalizes the law-abiding citizens to have to do more to be able to defend themselves from criminals,” one gun owner in Tulsa, Oklahoma explained.
Another local gun-owner didn’t share in that same reasoning—arguing the system is in place for a reason.
“I support the second amendment. It’s (an) important part of the constitution, but, I believe the system we have in place currently is better than allowing anyone to carry whenever they please,” Jason Hanan responded.
From Hanan’s perspective, individuals should still be required to obtain a basic level of training prior to allowing them to carry a gun period.
The bill, however, according to Senator Kim David (OKC-R), doesn’t change federal background checks required by law to purchase a firearm, and private property owners will still have the right to allow or deny concealed or open carry on their premises.
“We allow for people in other states to be able to carry in this state without a permit,” David told a local news station. “This bill simply allows law-abiding citizens that wish to carry a weapon be able to do that in our state also without paying for the permit.”
Now retired Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill City also heavily critiqued the law’s passing, giving a harsher opinion of the bill back in March, believing this law will lead to more deaths:
“Studies have already shown…the more guns you have and the more easy it is to get guns, the more deaths you’ll have.”
One has to wonder why Gov. Stitt quickly signed the bill into the law, as it has been highly controversial. While passed by the Legislature in 2018, former Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed the bill.
Despite the law going into effect, there are still exceptions pursuant to state statute or private property rules that disallow the use of weapons on the premises. And of course, Oklahomans still can’t carry guns in schools, casinos, and government buildings unless they allow it or on private property where the owner says no.
Specifically Prohibited Locations
Oklahoma Government Property
Under Oklahoma law, firearms are prohibited at “any structure, building or office space which is owned or leased by a city, town, county, state, or federal government authority for the purpose of conducting business with the public.”
This includes the Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma County Courthouse, and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Chesapeake Energy Arena, home to the Oklahoma City Thunder, prohibits “weapons of any kind, including concealed or unconcealed weapons, knives, mace, blades, and tools.”
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home to the Oklahoma City Dodgers, prohibits “weapons of any kind.” The only exception to this rule is law enforcement personnel who are acting within the scope of their official duties.
For all other guests and individuals, the ballpark requires consent to a reasonable search for weapons prior to entering the ballpark. If an individual fails to comply with the conditions or refuses to comply, they will be denied admittance and/or removed from the venue.
University of Oklahoma
Unless otherwise stated by school policy, Oklahoma law prohibits guns at any college, university, or technology center school property.
Oklahoma City Zoo
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is a business operated by a public trust and is not designated as a “park.” Therefore, the zoo strictly prohibits firearms on its grounds.
Public or private schools
Oklahoma law prohibits any person to have any firearm or weapon in his or her possession on any public or private school property, or while in any school bus or vehicle used by any school for transportation of students or teachers.
Welcome to the ‘Wild Wild West’
At the end of the day, the Second Amendment continues to be a hot topic for debate, especially right around the corner from the November elections. Unfortunately, experts still are unable to prove a direct relationship between permit-less carry laws and increased violence, as the policy is relatively new in the U.S.
Rep. Low believes that as of today, Oklahoma has the very real potential to become the ‘Wild Wild West,’ where situations are resolved with gun fire and gun fights. Lowe says he will continue to fight the battle on keeping this law intact, but with the Judge Andrew’s recent decision, this will definitely be an uphill battle.