The House passed a bill Wednesday that would allow Oklahomans with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons in the open, but beat back a proposal that would have let those who have a reasonable fear of bodily harm to carry a handgun without a permit.
The House of Representatives, with no debate, passed House Bill 2522 by a vote of 85-9. It now goes to the Senate.
House members took up five amendments that were filed on the bill, approving three and disposing of the other two.
A requirement that holsters have a locking mechanism in the holster, such as a strap over the weapon, was not approved.
House members approved amendments that would require those carrying a weapon to provide identification to a law enforcement officer at the first opportunity, allow the use of a shoulder holster, and require the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to mail the concealed handgun permit to the applicant.
Rep. Steve Martin said HB 2522 is similar to a bill passed two years ago by the Republican-controlled Legislature; that bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat.
HB 2522 differs in that it has a provision that would allow a law enforcement officer to ask to see a concealed gun permit of anyone openly carrying a handgun, he said.
Republican Gov. Mary Fallin has said she supports Second Amendment rights and that she would sign responsible open-carry legislation. The governor does not comment whether she will sign specific legislation until her legal staff has had a chance to review measures to check their intent and constitutionality.
Under the measure, Oklahomans would not be able to openly carry handguns in areas where they are currently prohibited from carrying them, such as government buildings, schools, sporting events and businesses with policies outlawing firearms, said Martin, R-Bartlesville.
HB 2522 also would allow an Oklahoma resident to carry a loaded firearm without a permit for any legitimate purpose on his or her own property. It also would prohibit a business from implementing policies that prevent a person from having ammunition in a locked motor vehicle in a parking lot.
Some form of open-carry legislation is in effect in 43 other states, Martin said.
“Law-abiding citizens in possession of firearms do not add to the overall danger,” Martin said. “It absolutely amazes me in the 17 years that we have had a concealed carry law in Oklahoma there has not been an instance of a bad shooting from anyone who was carrying a firearm under the protection of their concealed carry permit. I would have thought by now somebody would have messed up.”
Under the bill, the lawful open carrying of a handgun, pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, could not be designated by any municipality or other political subdivision as disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace or a similar offense against public order.
It also reduces the maximum fine from $500 and 90 days in jail to $100 for a motorist who has a concealed handgun permit but fails to tell a law officer during a traffic stop.