Despite new law, people are not carrying guns in open

Posted in: News
By Todd Brooks
Nov 21, 2012 - 8:58:01 AM

Oklahomans can now openly carry weapons since the state’s open-carry law went into effect on Nov. 1, but few, if any, firearms have been seen so far.
“No one has seen any in town that I am aware of,” said Marlow Police Chief Jimmy Williams. “I’ve talked to several people in law enforcement from all over and they haven’t seen any either.
“That’s really what we expected. I know there was a lot of speculation over that, but all the people I knew who supported the law, the majority of them were people who already had a concealed carry permit,” Williams said. “They were concerned if they were in a store or shopping, if they reached for their wallet, and their jacket came up and their gun was exposed.
“Before open-carry was passed, you could get fined for that and possibly lose your concealed carry license. They didn’t want to get in trouble if someone could tell if they were carrying under their shirt,” said Williams.
The chief has talked to no one who wanted the law so they could openly carry.
People have realized carrying a gun in the open may not be the best choice.
“I was talking to a man in his 70s who figured out why he should not do it,” Williams said. “One. You’ve given up your tactical advantage of being armed because if someone is going to come after you and they know you are armed, they are going to prepare for it.
“Two. He said he wouldn’t carry it open because of his age. If someone knows he had one and wanted it, they would know he would be an easier target than a 30-year-old.”
The chief does not expect people to start carrying openly.
“Once in a blue moon you may have someone do it just to say they did,” he said.
State Bill 1733, which made it legal for Self-Defense Act (SDA, Concealed carry) license holders to openly carry handguns, was signed into law last May by Governor Mary Fallin.
To openly carry a weapon, citizens must possess a concealed-carry license. And getting the license is a process unto itself.
Numerous classes are held in the area where prospects are taught gun safety, and laws affecting them carrying a firearm. The class is mandatory, as is, firing the weapon they wish to carry.
The class and firearm qualification take place prior to completing an application to be sent to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) for a background check. The application includes photographs and fingerprints obtained by going to a local sheriff’s office or jail.
Interest in obtaining the licenses has exploded and in April, OSBI was taking 52 days to process application – it is now taking approximately 97 days.
According to an OSBI newsletter, “To process the onslaught of applications more quickly, OSBI has hired three new employees, established a temporary night shift effective August 1, 2012, and added two additional temporary employees. The bureau is utilizing every available employee in every division to assist SDA with the volume of applications received.”
The state currently has 127,445 active, approved license holders.
Local businesses offering the class have reported a spike in interest in the past year, and gun stores have reported an increase in sales of both guns and ammunition. Classes have been full.
Applicants can expect to pay over $100 from start to finish to get their license.
Responsibilities that go along with carrying a weapon include giving a law enforcement officer the concealed carry license along with your driver’s license and insurance card if they get pulled over for any reason. Also, license holders must have identification whenever they carry a weapon, regardless of if they are driving or not.