Anyone with an interest in guns in the state of Oklahoma knows by now there is a new law in town. On February 27th, 2019 Governor Stitt signed into law house bill 2597. This new law allows citizens who are 21 years of age or older to carry a handgun concealed or on open display. However don’t start carrying a gun without a permit just yet. The new law does not go into effect until November 1st, 2019. Till that time, the current laws in effect today will remain the law with which we must abide till November. If you already have your conceal and carry permit, keep it with you even after November 1st. Some states you travel to may not recognize our constitutional carry law.
Oklahoma becomes the 15th state to enact such a law. Other “Constitutional Carry” states include, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Active duty and reserve military personnel aged 18 years and over will be allowed to carry without a permit under the bill. Veterans under age 21 who have received an honorable discharge will also be eligible.
The new law does not allow any county, town or city government to enact laws contrary to the states age requirements. However, business owners, private property owners and houses of worship may prohibit the carrying of handguns on their property. Institutions of higher learning and technical schools may also set their own policies regarding the possession of handguns on campus.
Persons who have been convicted of assault and battery or stalking will not be allowed to have a gun in public. There are also limitations on where you may carry your pistol. For example, court houses, the capitol, and other public buildings such as sporting arenas will prohibit firearms on their premises.
There are two other striking differences contained in the new law. The previous requirement for training and proof of proficiency in operating the handgun have been eliminated. After teaching almost 600 students, I can honestly say the thought of some people carrying a gun with zero training concerns me. Secondly, when encountering a law enforcement officer in the performance of their duties, such as a routine traffic stop; “No person shall be required to identify themselves as a handgun licensee or as lawfully in possession of any other firearm if the law enforcement officer does not demand the information.”
Only time will tell if this new law works to the benefit or detriment to the safety of Oklahomans.
It takes only a cursory search in the computer to find vehement arguments on both sides of the political fence, each quoting statistics and anecdotes to support their positions.
Constitutional (permitless) Carry is our right as guaranteed by the 2nd amendment. With rights come responsibilities. We are responsible to know how to safely transport, carry and operate a firearm. It is our responsibility to know and obey the laws (and there are many) that govern the ownership and use of a firearm. Employing the use of force or deadly force is an awesome responsibility. Let’s not give the “anti-gunners” any opportunity to criticize our rights, they already do so enough. Investing a few hours in training in someone’s Self Defense Act class would be a wise decision.
Be informed, be trained, be safe and be well.