Law enforcement officials said Wednesday they are glad they have months to prepare for the open-carry legislation signed by Gov. Mary Fallin this week, and at least one metro-
The law, which goes into effect Nov. 1, will allow those with permits to carry firearms under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act to choose whether to conceal their weapons or carry them openly. The law previously required permit holders to conceal their firearms.
Officials from several state law enforcement agencies said Wednesday they aren't sure how they will handle the new law.
“We're reviewing the statute and researching the law and will brief and train our troopers about the law after this process is completed,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Chris West said.
Oklahoma City police will take a similar approach, Master Sgt. Gary Knight said. He said
“Officers are always trained to watch people's hands. That's always where a weapon will be,” Knight said. “Whether this is going to cause any more issues with this remains to be seen.”
Police also will have to determine how to handle calls from the public when someone is spotted carrying a firearm.
Midwest City police will check for permits when they encounter someone openly carrying a gun,
“When public safety comes up, that is No. 1,” Porter said. “If we see someone carrying a weapon in a holster, they have to have a permit on them and would be asked to show it. Anybody with a weapon on their side is considered a suspicious person.”
Law enforcement officials said they don't know how many permit holders will choose to openly carry firearms.
Miles Hall, co-owner of H&H Shooting Sports Complex in Oklahoma City, said he doubts many people will want to display their guns. H&H offers the legally required safety course that permit holders must complete, and thousands of people have taken that course at his business.
“I think there are going to be some people openly carrying because they can, but I think most people will conceal carry because that is tactically better,” Hall said.
He said some gun owners have expressed concern that openly carrying a firearm would mark them as a target for someone looking to rob a business. The bigger concern for most who carry firearms was a loophole in the law that was fixed by the new legislation, he said.
If someone who has a conceal-carry permit accidentally exposed his or her firearm under a jacket or in a purse, it technically would be a violation of the law, a problem referred to as “casual exposure,” Hall said.
“The vast majority of people who were enthusiastic about open carry probably won't be carrying openly, at least in public,” Hall said. “This fixed the casual exposure issue.”
Hall said there is a chance the classes could change to include training on open carry. The class is regulated by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.
“They have told us that once they get the actual law, they are going to sit down and look at what they are going to do,” Hall said. “We'll take direction from them.”