Oklahoma House Approves Bill that Would Allow Guns on School Property

Gun laws in Oklahoma are among some of the most permissive in the nation. We uphold both the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws for self defense. We allow both concealed carry and open carry of firearms. Private sellers are not required to conduct background checks when selling firearms, either from home or at gun shows. Despite being a firearm-friendly state, Oklahoma does have certain restrictions on who is allowed to own guns and where they are allowed to carry or possess them. Prohibited places are listed in 21 O.S. 1277 of the state criminal code. Currently, it is not legal to carry or possess a firearm in the following places:

  • A government building used for conducting business with the public
  • A jail, prison, detention facility, or correctional facility
  • A public or private elementary or secondary school
  • A sports arena during a professional sporting event
  • Anywhere parimutuel betting is allowed by law
  • A college, university, or technology center
  • A bar, nightclub, or any other establishment where liquor or low-point beer are consumed
  • Any business where the owner prohibits firearms on the premises
  • Any other place prohibited by law
In several of the above places, it is legal to have the firearm in a vehicle in the parking lot--just not in the actual venue. There is no such exclusion, however, for the allowance of firearms on elementary or secondary school property. While schools are mentioned as prohibited places in Section 1277, the full statute dealing with possession of firearms on school property is found in 21 O.S. 1280.1. This law states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to have 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 any firearm or weapon . . . ." Under this law, unauthorized persons who carry a weapon on school property are guilty of a felony punishable by a maximum of 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Earlier this week, a bill which would loosen the restrictions on possession of guns on school property sailed through the Oklahoma House of Representatives by a vote of 76-17. If approved by the Oklahoma Senate and the governor, HB 2329 would allow a gun owner to bring a handgun on school property if he or she left it in his or her locked vehicle in the parking lot. If HB 2329 becomes law, it would also lessen the severity of a criminal charge for violation of the law from a felony to a misdemeanor. While supporters of the bill say it is a measure to protect the constitutional rights of citizens, opponents say that any gun on school property is dangerous, and they note that the bill does not specify that a gun must be locked inside a compartment within the vehicle or that it must not be visible. Representative Ann Coody, a former school principal, says that she fears for student safety if a law passes which would allow a handgun to be left in plain view on school property. Representative Sally Kern, who authored the bill, challenges Coody's concerns, saying, "You find me an instance when anybody went to do any harm at a school and decided they would go through all the cars to try and find a weapon to do it with -- never happened." What do you think of allowing handguns locked in vehicles on school property? Should the Oklahoma Sentate pass HB 2329 or is it a bad idea?

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