“When that happened, I decided I was going to get politically active and get this something everybody can do in public,” he said.
But opponents say they fear more guns will lead to more violence. Though the law requires a background check against a federal database before a carry permit is approved, Oklahoma is one of 15 states that had submitted less than five mental health records to be included in the database as of 2011.
“It can be very unnerving,” said Darla Koone, of Oklahoma City, who sat several booths down from the gun group at Beverly's on Thursday. “The law doesn't really keep guns out of the hands of people with problems.”
Across the table, her friend Sarah Musick, also of Oklahoma City, disagreed.
“As long as checks are in place and the system's actually working, and as long as they're using them appropriately, I do feel safer,” Musick said.
Business owners must decide
Some business owners in Oklahoma have said they will bar their customers from carrying guns openly inside, but others have said they don't have a problem with it.
Others — like Bruce Harroz, owner of Crest Foods — said they will make a decision after they see how their customers respond to the sight of visible guns inside.
Harroz said Crest backed off its no-guns policy several months ago after his voice mail and email were inundated with messages from gun rights advocates who threatened to boycott. Now he's hearing from the anti-gun crowd, particularly women with small children who want to shop without worry of violence.
“We're looking toward no weapons allowed, but we haven't pulled the trigger on it yet,” Harroz said. “You can't please everybody any way you go, and we've got both kinds of customers shopping with us.”
Even the owner of Beverly's said she is not quite sure how she feels about guns in the restaurant.
Renee Masoudy said Hull and other organizers of Thursday's open carry event are regular customers at Beverly's. But a stranger with a handgun might not settle so easy with her cooks and wait staff.
“What it is that scares me is Fridays, Saturdays, the bar crowd — people come sometimes drunk,” Masoudy said. “We've been through a lot of things, and I don't know if for the sake of my employees' safety that I want to allow it.”