Arkansas residents who venture into Oklahoma on Thursday (Nov. 1) should not be alarmed if they notice someone walking down the sidewalk with a pistol holstered to their side.
Oklahoma’s “open carry” gun law goes into effect Thursday, and allows the estimated 141,000 state residents who have a concealed-weapon permit to carry their weapons openly.
According to the law, Oklahomans with a handgun license issued by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) will on Thursday be able to carry concealed handguns and openly displayed hand guns. Previously, license holders were only able to carry concealed weapons.
Oklahoma officials have estimated a 40% increase in the number of state residents applying for some form of a weapons permit.
“Oklahoma will soon become one of 44 states that allow some kind of ‘open carry,’” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement issued Wednesday (Oct. 31). “I believe the law is consistent with the spirit of the Second Amendment and that similar laws in other states have shown that open carry can be implemented safely and responsibly. However, it is important that citizens, especially those that plan to openly carry firearms, understand and follow the law.
Fallin used her statement to remind that the law requires a concealed handgun weapons permit, and a “valid government ID” must be on the person openly carrying a weapon. She also said the open carry law has exceptions.
“It’s also important to remember that any privately owned business may prohibit open carry or concealed carry on their property. These prohibitions must be respected, in addition to the prohibitions on open carry at schools, universities and career technology centers, prisons, in bars, at sporting events, or on government property,” Fallin noted.
The law, Fallin noted, also requires the holder of an open carry who has their weapon to “immediately notify” a police officer if they are stopped by the officer for any reason.
The Tulsa World reported in May that 46% of surveyed likely voters supported the open carry law, with 42% opposed. The survey was conducted prior to Fallin signing the bill into law.
Steve Jones, chairman of Arkansas Carry, said the Oklahoma law is a move in the right direction, but he believes fewer restrictions are needed on what he sees as a Constitutional right.
"Oklahoma, by removing some restrictions upon the act of bearing arms, is taking a major step in returning to the foundation of freedom our forefathers built for us,” Jones noted in a statement to The City Wire. “While Arkansas continues to infringe upon the true right of self-protection in public, the Sooner State is becoming (as states such as Vermont, Virginia and 41 other states currently are), an ‘experiment in freedom,’ as our founding fathers envisioned.”
Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, attempted to push an open carry bill during the 2011 Arkansas General Assembly. With opposition from numerous sources, including Gov. Mike Beebe and the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association, the bill never made it out of committee.