Police and business owners prepare for Oklahoma's open carry law

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

DURANT, OK -- This Thursday, Oklahoma joins 43 other states allowing licensed gun owners to openly carry their firearms.

The law is going to take some getting used to for both Oklahoma residents and police officers. People are on both sides of the fence when it comes to the issue

Locked, loaded and out in the open. This is a sight Oklahomans will have to get used to when they are out and about.

"You could possibly see it just about anywhere, grocery store, Walmart," Lieutenant Chris Marcy said.

"It's going to be really scary," Jennifer Maldonado said.

But, starting Thursday, it will be legal. The new open carry law allows those with handgun licenses to carry their .45 caliber handguns in plain sight, but it comes with many regulations.

The gun must be in a holster. You can't openly carry it at schools, meetings of elected or government bodies, prisons, jails, bars or arenas during sporting events.

Business owners can opt out of allowing guns inside. Restaurant owner, Mark Rawlings, has made his decision.

"It didn't take much discussion. We are going to allow open carry in our restaurant. There's gonna be a lot of people that kind of think 'well, I don't really want to be around somebody that's got a gun.' It's happening now. There's people coming here everyday that have a gun," Rawlings said.

Durant police officers and dispatchers received training to prepare them for the changes. Lt. Chris Marcy says they're ready for an influx in 911 calls, saying there is someone with a gun. He says in the past, they would immediately respond, but now dispatchers will have to ask...

"Is somebody out wanting to cause a crime, or is this just a citizen who now is choosing to carry in the open? Now our dispatchers with the training, they're probably going to ask a few more questions. What is that person doing? Are they waving the gun around in the air. Are they screaming and hollering? Or are the just, you know, walking down the road with a gun that's out in the open?" Marcy said.

But law or not, it is not sitting well with Jennifer Maldonado.

"To me, if they want to be able to carry one, have a license for it, at least put it to where it's out of the sight of kids," Maldonado said.

You must have your license to carry. You can get that through OSBI. We're told they are backed up for several months. So, it could take awhile before you're allowed to openly carry your weapon.

Oklahoma Open Carry Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Open Carry?
A: Open Carry refers to an unconcealed handgun, which is a loaded or unloaded handgun carried on your person in a belt or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible.

Q: Is Open Carry legal in Oklahoma?
A: Starting November 1, 2012, a handgun license shall authorize a person to carry concealed or unconcealed.

Q: How was Open Carry legalized in Oklahoma?
A: SB 1733, passed by the Oklahoma House and Senate, was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin on May 15, 2012. This legislation expands Oklahoma’s current concealed carry provisions to now include open carry. Thus, current concealed carry statutory provisions that govern eligibility requirements, licensing requirements, and places where carrying a concealed handgun is permitted will now be applied to open carry provisions.

Q: What firearms can I openly carry pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act?
A: Only handguns.

Q: What size can the handgun be?
A: Less than sixteen (16) inches in length.

Q: What kind of ammunition can be used?
A: .45 caliber or smaller.

Q: Can I openly carry the pistol in my hand?
A: No. You must keep the pistol on your person and in a belt or shoulder holster, or in a scabbard or case designed for carrying firearms.

Q: If I already have a concealed carry license, do I need to reapply for an open carry license?
A: No. Starting November 1, 2012, a handgun license issued by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (“OSBI”) will permit both open and concealed carry. This includes concealed carry licenses that have been previously issued by OSBI.

Q: Do I have to be licensed to openly carry a handgun pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act?
A: Yes. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (“OSBI”) is authorized to license eligible persons to carry concealed or unconcealed handguns.

Q: What are the residency and age requirements for a license?
A: You must be a citizen of the United States, resident of Oklahoma, and at least 21 years of age.

Q: I travel to Oklahoma several times each year, do I qualify as a resident?
A: No. A resident of the state is someone who has a valid Oklahoma driver’s license or state photo identification card, and physically maintains a residence in Oklahoma, or someone who has permanent military orders in Oklahoma and possesses a valid driver license from another state.

Q: Where can I get a handgun license application?
A: You can find the application on OSBI’s website (http://www.ok.gov/osbi/) or at your local county sheriff’s office.

Q: How do I apply for a handgun license with OSBI?
A: You must submit an application in person to your county sheriff’s office. You must also undergo an OSBI background check, complete a firearms safety and training course, demonstrate competence with the type of pistol you intend to carry, and pay an application fee.

Q: How much is the application fee?
A: $100 for a five year handgun license or $200 for a ten year handgun license.

Q: How long is the firearms safety and training course?
A: An eight hour course.

Q: How long does it take to complete the application process?
A: Approximately 100 days, if the background check conducted by the OSBI reveals no records pertaining to the applicant.

Q: Can I ever carry openly without a handgun license?
A: Yes. You can carry loaded or unloaded shotguns, rifles, or handguns openly and without a handgun license if you are hunting animals or fowl, competing or practicing in a safety or hunter safety class, target shooting skeet, trap or other recognized sporting events, practicing or participating in military or police functions, during a practice for or a performance for entertainment purposes, or for any legitimate purpose not in violation of the Oklahoma Firearms
**SB 1733 also allows you to carry openly and without a handgun license for self-defense in or on property that you own, lease, or rent.

Q: Who is not allowed to carry a handgun pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act?
A: Generally, if you meet any of the following, you cannot carry a handgun: you are a convicted felon, you have been adjudicated as a delinquent, you are considered legally incompetent, or you are not licensed.
*Non-violent felony offenders can have their gun rights restored through a gubernatorial pardon.

Q: What are some of the preclusions to openly carry a handgun pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act?
A: Generally, if you meet any of the following, state law prevents you from openly carrying a handgun until a certain amount of time has passed without those factors being present in your life: you have a history of violence, substance abuse, or mental illness. You must wait anywhere from 3 to 10 years.

Q: At what places am I not allowed to carry a handgun?
A: Generally, you cannot openly carry at the following places or events:
 Private businesses, organizations or residences that prohibit open carry
 Buildings, structures or office space owned or leased by governmental entities
 Meetings of any city, county, town state or federal officials
 Meetings of school board members or legislative members
 Meetings of other elected or appointed officials
 Any prison, jail or detention facility
 Any place where pari-mutuel wagering is authorized
 Sporting Arenas during a professional sporting event
 Establishments whose primary purpose is to dispense alcoholic beverages
 Colleges, Universities or Technology Centers
 Public and Private Schools
 Any other place specifically prohibited by law

Q: Can I openly carry at a restaurant?
A: Generally, open carry is permitted at restaurants unless the business owner chooses not to allow it. The business owner or business entity may post a sign prohibiting firearms or weapons, but nothing requires them to do so. Open carry is not permitted in the bar areas of restaurants.

Q: Can I openly carry at a bar?
A: No.

Q: Can I openly carry at a state park?
A: Yes.

Q: What if a business posts a sign stating “No Firearms?”
A: You cannot carry in this business.

Q: What if I get stopped by a police officer while I am openly carrying?
A: If you are arrested, detained, or pulled over for a routine traffic stop, you must notify the police officer immediately that you have a handgun in your possession.

Q: Do I need my identification with me while I openly carry?
A: Yes. You must have your handgun license AND Oklahoma driver license or state photo identification with you at all times.

Q: Should I show the police officer my handgun license?
A: You must show the police officer your handgun license if the police officer asks to see it.


Q: What is reciprocity?
A: Oklahoma recognizes or honors concealed carry licenses issued by other states.
*SB 1733 expands current law, starting November 1, 2012, Oklahoma will also recognize open carry licenses.

Q: Can I carry a concealed handgun without a license?
A: Starting November 1, 2012, the state of Oklahoma will allow you to carry a concealed handgun without a license only if you are allowed to do so in your own state.

Q: How was this legalized in Oklahoma?
A: SB 1785, passed by the Oklahoma House and Senate, was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin on May 7, 2012. This legislation expands Oklahoma’s current law of reciprocity to allow Oklahoma to recognize non-permitting carry states.

Q: What are the non-permitting carry states?
A: The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety maintains an update to date list. Currently, those states are Alaska, Arkansas, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Q: Can I openly carry and not have a permit?
A: Maybe. You can carry a handgun openly or concealed without a license under reciprocity if this is allowed in your state and under the same conditions that are required in your state.

Q: What if I get stopped by a police officer?
A: You must notify the police officer immediately that you have a handgun in your possession pursuant to the non-permitting laws of your resident state.

Q: Do I need my identification with me?
A: Yes. You must have a valid photo ID that shows you are a resident of the non-permitting state.

Legal Disclaimer

This information is intended to serve as a guide for the recent changes in Oklahoma’s gun laws. Therefore, all provisions of Oklahoma’s gun laws are not included. This information does not constitute legal advice and is informational only.

FAQs from the Office of Okla. Governor Mary Fallin

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