May 15, 2010

Open Carry: not a return to the Wild West
Ben Sherrer State Representative

OKLAHOMA CITY — Mention the two words “Open Carry” and many people have thoughts of turning our main streets into scenes from Gunsmoke or Bonanza.

Back in January when I first heard talk about an Open Carry firearms law in Oklahoma that was my knee-jerk reaction as well.

In fact, it was my perception that such laws only existed in states like Montana and Wyoming – states that stir images of the old west in our minds.

Upon doing some research I was surprised to learn that 13 States allow pure open carry without vehicle restrictions and 17 States allow open carry with vehicle restrictions.

An additional 13 States allow open carry with a permit. A total of 43 states have some form of open carry.

More important than the existence of open carry in other states is the absence of evidence that indicates widespread tragedies and unintended consequences have occurred as a result of open carry laws across the nation.

Similar concerns were levied when Oklahoma passed a concealed carry law, which has not resulted in adverse consequences either.

If House bill 3354 ultimately becomes law it will place us in the category that would allow persons with a concealed carry license to openly carry a firearm. In our state of over 3.3 million people, there are approximately 93,000 concealed carry permit holders.

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Ben Sherrer is state representative for District 8.