An Oklahoma City man who wore a gun on his hip while casting his ballot Election Day may be the only arrest Oklahoma City police have made related to the state’s new open-carry law.
The law resulted in few enforcement issues in the month since it took effect Nov. 1, Capt. Dexter Nelson said. However, auto burglaries — a common way criminals acquire the weapons — are up, Nelson said.
Dispatchers have received calls regarding the law change, mostly from business owners who wanted information about signs stating guns aren’t allowed inside, Nelson said.
Problem at the polls
While police aren’t tracking arrests related to the law change, there has been at least one, Nelson said.
A poll worker at The Fountains of Canterbury retirement community at 1404 NW 122 became uneasy when she saw the man sporting a gun in a holster Nov. 6. She asked Ethan Sisson, 23, to put his gun in the car.
Sisson left but returned about two hours later wearing a cap pulled low and a jacket.
He cast his vote, removed his hat and jacket and revealed the pistol in its holster to the poll worker, according to a police incident report.
He made a comment about his constitutional rights before taking photos of election signs and leaving.
While the new law allows people with a state-issued permit to carry openly in public, guns still are banned from certain areas, including any place owned or leased by a city, state or federal government to conduct public business.
The Oklahoma County Election Board leased the room at the retirement community for election purposes, according to the police investigation.
Sisson told the poll worker he had spoken to both an attorney and an official with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to make sure it was OK to take the gun in, according to a police incident report. Sisson has a concealed-carry permit, according to OSBI.
Sisson was arrested Nov. 20 on a complaint of carrying a weapon into a public building.
He posted $4,000 bail at the Oklahoma County jail Nov. 21, a jail official said.
Citing the pending case, Sisson declined to comment about his arrest.
About open carry
Senate Bill 1733, signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin in May, amends the state’s concealed weapons laws by removing the word “concealed.”
The revised law also recognize the right of permitted gun owners to carry handguns openly on their private property and allows people with permits issued in other states to carry their weapons in public here.
Restrictions remain in place at government buildings, bars and professional sporting events, among other places.
Businesses and private property owners still can prohibit firearms, carried openly or concealed, but citizens maintain the right to store them in their vehicles on private and government property.
Business owners are free to ban guns from property with a sign or by communicating the message verbally.
When the law went into effect, 141,000 active concealed-carry permits in Oklahoma became “carry permits.”
Signs that ban guns from the premises are on the doors of many Oklahoma City businesses, but others do allow guns inside.
A group of gun advocates chose Beverly’s Pancake House to celebrate their newfound gun rights at midnight Nov. 1, sipping sodas and dining on breakfast dishes as they talked about constitutional rights and revealed pistols in their holsters.
Scenes like that have not become the norm.
“We don’t have a bunch of gun-slinging cowboys in here,” manager Mike Rodriguez said.
The gun-friendly establishment caters to regulars, such as police officers, security guards and military members who come to the 24-hour diner to eat.
Still, there haven’t been a lot of sidearm spottings, Rodriguez said.
Staff members haven’t had to call police with any concerns.
“We really haven’t noticed anyone has been carrying a sidearm in,” he said.
“There may have been one or two since then. But for the most part, it’s business as usual.”