On November 1, 2012, Oklahoma officially became an "open carry" state. Earlier in the year, the Oklahoma House and Senate approved SB 1733, and it was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin on May 15, 2012.
Officially an Open Carry State
When November rolled around, Oklahoma citizens gained the right to carry unconcealed weapons. Some 40,000 gun permits were approved in 2012. Many people who were already carrying concealed began to carry openly, and for them, being able to display their weapon gives an additional sense of security.
People who openly carry firearms say that having a visible weapon serves as a deterrent to crime. Despite the above picture of a man who felt the need to openly carry an assault rifle in Walmart, the Oklahoma Self Defense law specifies which kinds of guns may be carried and how they may be carried.
The Oklahoma Self Defense Act
The Oklahoma Self Defense Act allows open carry of handguns only, and these must be smaller than 16 inches and utilize .45 caliber or smaller ammunition. Anyone who carries a gun must have a valid handgun license issued by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).
There are restrictions on where a person may be allowed to carry a weapon, whether concealed carry or open carry:
- Private businesses, organizations or residences that prohibit open carry
- Buildings, structures or office space owned or leased by governmental entities
- Meetings of any city, county, town state or federal officials
- Meetings of school board members or legislative members
- Meetings of other elected or appointed officials
- Any prison, jail or detention facility
- Any place where pari-mutuel wagering is authorized
- Sporting Arenas during a professional sporting event
- Establishments whose primary purpose is to dispense alcoholic beverages
- Colleges, Universities or Technology Centers
- Public and Private Schools
- Any other place specifically prohibited by law
It is important for anyone who carries a handgun, whether concealed or openly displayed, to notify police about the weapon if stopped, detained, or questioned by police. According to the governor's office, "If you are arrested, detained, or pulled over for a routine traffic stop, you must notify the police officer immediately that you have a handgun in your possession." You must also have both your handgun license and your driver's license or state-issued ID in your possession.
Legal in Certain Locations
There are places where it is legally allowed to openly carry a gun without a license:
"You can carry loaded or unloaded shotguns, rifles, or handguns openly and without a handgun license if you are hunting animals or fowl, competing or practicing in a safety or hunter safety class, target shooting skeet, trap or other recognized sporting events, practicing or participating in military or police functions, during a practice for or a performance for entertainment purposes, or for any legitimate purpose not in violation of the Oklahoma Firearms Act.
SB 1733 also allows you to carry openly and without a handgun license for self-defense in or on property that you own, lease, or rent."
Exceptions to the Law
Despite Oklahoma's somewhat permissive gun laws, there are those who are prohibited from possession firearms. These include convicted felons, those who have been adjudicated delinquent, those who are legally incompetent, and anyone without a license.
Those with a history of violence or domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental illness must wait a prescribed length of time--generally 3 to 10 years--before having the right to gun ownership restored. Find out more about Oklahoma gun laws here.