Gun association seeks right to 'bare' arms in Oklahoma
Capitol: Group opposes six states’ requirements to conceal weapons
BY JOHN GREINER
Published: October 20, 2008
Donald Ohse is spearheading an online effort at obtaining signatures from supporters urging legislators to pass a law allowing citizens to openly carry guns. He is photographed with his Glock Model 21, a .45 caliber pistol Wednesday, October 15, 2008. BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
To at least one Midwest City man, openly carrying a gun is a matter of safety for him and his family.
Fears of shoot-outs like those of the Old West are just fear-mongering, he said.
Donald Ohse is part of a movement to change laws in several states, including Oklahoma, so people can openly carry their weapons.
This movement is an online drive to get enough signatures of like-minded people to influence legislators to pass open carry laws. He said he’s gotten 1,300 signatures.
Ohse already is licensed under Oklahoma law to carry a concealed weapon.
But Ohse thinks openly carrying his pistol would be better and safer for him and others.
If he or his family were in danger, it would be a lot easier if he could quickly reach his gun instead of having it hidden in his coat and having to pull it from his pocket, he said.
"It’s not like you could see something happening and, say, ‘Hey, give me a moment,’” he said. "The quicker the access, the better in a life-or-death situation.”
Being able to openly carry his gun would have helped him when someone once tried to run over him following an accident, Ohse said.
Ohse saw a car accident and went to help. One driver tried to leave the scene of the crash.
Ohse was behind the car writing down the tag number when the driver backed up.
The driver stopped when he saw Ohse fumble in his coat and pull out a gun, Ohse said.
When the movement beganIn 2004 in Virginia, Mike Stollenwerk and John Pierce started OpenCarry.org to push for the right to carry guns openly.
The Web site now has about 10,000 registered members, said Stollenwerk, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.
Stollenwerk and Pierce determined that at least six states ban openly carrying a gun: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina and New York.
This movement includes only handguns, which Stollenwerk calls "the quintessential self-defense weapon.”
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence lists gun laws of each state. But Chad Ramsey, a senior associate director of the Brady Group, said it is difficult to determine which states allow open carry.
But Ramsey said Stollenwerk appears to be correct about the six states that ban openly carrying firearms.
Law enforcement objectionsOfficials with two Oklahoma law enforcement associations said they don’t like the idea of people openly carrying guns.
"I would guess that very few would want to go back to the early west appearance where people carried guns strapped down on their hip,” said Ken McNair, a retired police officer and executive director of the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association.
Jim Cox, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, said he doesn’t think that openly carrying a gun accomplishes very much.
A concealed weapon gives a person the element of surprise, he said.
"The bad guys aren’t going to be openly carrying,” said Cox, a former police officer and police chief in Midwest City.
Right to chooseStollenwerk said he thinks that letting people carry guns openly will let someone with bad intentions know that you are armed.
"While I understand that sometimes it is a tactical advantage to be concealed, sometimes it might be the other way,” he said. "Everybody should have the right to choose.”