Oklahoma House Sends Open Carry Bill to Governor
Posted: May 04, 2010 12:24 PM CDT Updated: May 04, 2010 4:50 PM CDT
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahomans soon may have the right to openly carry guns in public after the House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to allow the practice.
The House voted 74-24 for the bill giving the estimated 97,000 Oklahoma residents with a concealed-carry permit the right to carry firearms openly. The measure has already passed the Senate and heads to Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
The requirements for obtaining a gun license, including a background check and completion of a firearms training course, remain unchanged.
The bill's author in the House, Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, said the open carry of firearms will deter violence.
"A criminal is far less likely to attack once he sees a citizen is armed," said Duncan, a former prosecutor. "A criminal is far less likely to attack once he sees a citizen is armed."
But several House members expressed concern that people carrying weapons would intimidate others who weren't.
"What scares me is that we're trying to promote tourism in Oklahoma," said Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, a retired state trooper. "How many people are going to want to come to a state where people are walking through downtown Oklahoma City with a pearl-handled six-shooter on their hip?"
Some Republicans who opposed the measure said it would put businesses in the awkward position of banning firearms altogether because they wouldn't want people openly carrying weapons into their establishments.
"Businesses that are privately owned will not want people coming in with guns on their hips," said Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa.
Ten other states allow residents with handgun permits to openly carry firearms, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. In Montana, citizens can openly carry a handgun without a permit.