Recently I listened to the audio of the Interim Study on Gun Owners Rights in the state of Oklahoma and wanted to address a few things I heard in the study.
First a little about me. I am not a member of any firearm group or organization, I am simply a firearm enthusiast and have lived in Oklahoma all 36 years of my life. For about the last year, I have been a member of a national internet forum whose focus is the open carry of firearms in all states. Hopefully I can keep this brief so as not to take up to much of your time.
At approximately 30:18 into the audio, Professor O’Shea mentions that some bills have made mention of a retention holster being a requirement for open carry. Also at approximately 50:13 Representative Martin asks if there are stats from other states in regards to gun grabs.
After searching other states laws, I could find nothing in any state that requires a particular type of holster. Requiring a particular type of holster may limit the type of firearms that can be carried. Companies that make mechanical retention holsters do so for the most popular types of firearms. This means that those that are not “in style” would have to use a generic type holster with a simple snap. Personally I feel better with a holster that uses friction as the mode of retention that is designed for a specific firearm than a generic one with a snap. Friction holsters are generally designed so the firearm can only be drawn from a particular direction so an individual coming up from behind would have a hard time removing it.
Professor O’Shea mentions there have been some media reports about gun grabs. In the last year, I have heard of 2 instances that were called gun grabs. The first was an assault on someone who was open carrying, but not a gun grab. The second was a true gun grab where 2 individuals removed a firearm from an individual open carrying. Others that I am aware of turned out to be false reports. Professor O’Shea may know of others but the fact is, gun grabs happen very rarely considering the amount of time people openly carry in other states.
While talking about retention, at approximately 1:07:10, Representative Omby asks if other states require retention training. That I can find in other statutes, no other state makes a specific requirement of retention training. It may be covered in the training class but is not mentioned in statute.
Another bill made reference specifically to a firearm had to be in a belt holster. I do not believe any open carry statute should dictate the position of holster, only it must be in a holster. Requiring a belt holster, completely rules out the use of a drop leg holster that can be attached to the belt, and strapped around the upper thigh. These can provide an easier draw position for some people as well as being more comfortable that on the belt.
At 53:53 Representative Martin asks Professor O’Shea about the ability of an officer to approach an individual who is openly carrying and ask to see their license. Later on, Major Rhoades makes a comment about this being a civil rights issue.
There have been court decisions that say the mere presence of a firearm does not indicate a crime, therefore there is no reasonable suspicion to initiate contact with the individual. Much like Terry v. Ohio, where you can’t stop a car to make sure the driver is licensed, you should not be able to stop a person who is doing nothing wrong to see if the have a carry license (absent constitutional carry).
Around 1:00:45, when speaking about business owners rights and the decriminalization of carrying a firearm in a business that is posted, Representative Roan asks about what other states do when someone fails to leave when asked.
As other speakers have mentioned, the people we are talking about are law abiding citizens and when asked to leave, they will. Other states allow trespass charges to be filed against people who refuse to leave.
At approximately 1:56:00, Mr. Hall is talking about asking his guests about open carry vs concealed carry and he states the majority of responses are for concealed carry. Prior to 15 years ago, Oklahoma had no carry provision for self defense. For the last 15 years we have had concealed carry. It is my opinion that if concealed carry is all you know, then it will be what you are comfortable with and will be your choice. I believe that if open carry passes, more and more people will open carry, especially in the warmer summer months as they won’t have to worry about a cover garment.
Around 2:11:50, Major Rhodes comments that bad guys don’t open carry, and his is afraid that if open carry passes, they might. This has not been the situation in other states, the bad guys continue to illegally conceal their weapons. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Phelps was quoted in the San Bernardino Sun on September 6, 2010 as saying “[G]ang members aren’t know to open carry.”
Around 2:22:53, Major Rhodes mentions that in his mind, concealed carry is a tactical advantage because the firearm is hidden, and the guy with the gun could be the first one shot.
Open carry also has it’s own tactical advantage in that it takes less time to draw from an open holster than a concealed holster. There is no data to support the open carrier being the first person shot. People don’t look for firearms on law abiding citizens, they expect to see them on law enforcement and people in uniform. That is why the law enforcement or people in uniform are the first ones shot during altercations with criminals.
Open carry is also a deterrent to crime. There have been documented cases where criminals have seen law abiding citizens openly carrying and have left the establishment. The most notable is the Waffle House in Kennesaw, GA., where armed robbers were arrested outside while they were waiting for four armed citizens to finish eating and leave.
Finally, around 2:25:00 Representative Reynolds asks Major Rhoades about how other states law enforcement handle people who openly carry. Major Rhoades stated he specifically did not look at other states because this should be an Oklahoma thing.
As other states looked at Oklahoma’s Concealed Carry law and make it their own, I think Oklahoma can look at other states laws for ideas and customize it to Oklahomans wants and needs. From reading reports from other states, many states law enforcement simply pass by someone openly carrying unless they receive a call about a person with a gun. This requires an officer to respond. Responses can very from simple observation to questioning the individual as to what they are doing.
This can be a tricky area to navigate as an officer could be seen as questioning someone without any reasonable suspicion of a crime.
Allowing open carry can be tricky the way Oklahoma law is currently written. Many states allow open carry simply because there is no law against it. Oklahoma has a law that specifically disallows this practice then lists exceptions as to when it is OK.
While I support the practice of open carry and would love to see Oklahoma become a constitutional carry state or the illegal act be stricken from statute, I believe there is to much fear about firearms for this to happen at this time. It is the same fear of blood in the streets that was brought up 15 years ago when concealed carry was passed. I believe that for an open carry bill to pass now, it should be tied to the Self-Defense Act and permit.
I have tried to make this short but still provide additional information for you to consider while debating open carry laws this session.