By ROB W. ANDERSON
On Nov. 1, Oklahoma became the 44th state in the nation to allow residents who have a permit to openly carry a firearm.
The new law, or Senate Bill 1733, was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in May, and it took effect just over a week ago. According to published reports, 142,000 men and women in the state are licensed to carry a concealed weapon and no longer have to hide their handguns.
Managers and owners of several area businesses said while they haven’t seen any sidearms yet, they wouldn’t necessarily discourage customers from carrying them.
A couple of individuals have been seen shopping with their handguns at Reasor’s, but the store does not anticipate any problems, said Store Director Glenn Stafford.
“We don’t really have a policy on it. At this point, we’re letting them go ahead. We’ve seen a couple, but nothing major,” Stafford said. “We don’t expect any issues at this point.”
According to the definitions section of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, a concealed handgun means “a loaded or unloaded pistol carried while hidden from the detection and view of another individual either upon or about the person, in a purse or other bag-like container belonging to the person or in a vehicle being operated by the person or in which the person is riding as a passenger.”
A pistol is defined as “any derringer, revolver or semiautomatic firearm, which has on overall length of less than 16 inches and is able to be fully concealed from view or detection.”
Under the new law, a permit holder can carry a loaded or unloaded unconcealed pistol in a belt or shoulder holster that is completely or partially visible, or in a scabbard or case designed for carrying firearms where the case or sheath is completely or partially detectable by another person.
It remains illegal to carry a weapon onto government property, like a university or public school campus; into banks; in professional/medical buildings where public service is conducted; and in establishments that sell alcoholic beverages. Businesses and homeowners can still ban individuals from bringing weapons onto their property if they so choose.
KiBois Area Transit System Route Supervisor Terri Squyres said customers are not allowed to bring any weapon on to a KATS bus.
“We’re in the process right now of ordering decals that say no guns allowed on the bus. There never has been,” she said.
NeoHealth CEO Angel Westbrook confirmed that patients who have a permit to carry a gun are not allowed to bring their weapons into the clinic or building where medical services are being conducted.
“So at all of our properties, if they show up [with a holstered weapon], they’ll be asked to return their weapon to their vehicle until after the appointment,” she said. “It’s posted on a couple of our doors already, and we’ve had to order more signage to go up. Just a gentle reminder, and to my knowledge, we haven’t had to ask anyone to return a weapon to their vehicle.”
Though no armed customers have been observed shopping in his business, Rose Furniture store owner Rick Rose said he will allow permit-holding customers to peruse the floor display while wearing their pieces.
“We do allow open carry. My thought is that most people who carry will still conceal it. That’s our preference, but if someone walked in with an open carry, we wouldn’t turn them away,” he said. “I’m a pretty strong supporter of the Second Amendment.”
Local law officials frequent the Hit-n-Run convenience store, as they do many businesses throughout Tahlequah. That’s one reason owner Danny Reese said he will allow permit-holding customers to enter the business with their holstered guns.
“If there’s a law that says that they can, it’s not going to bother me. Hopefully they took the class and know what they’re doing and are mentally stable,” he said.
Tahlequah Lumber Co. Store Manager Bill Kissinger said the open carry law hasn’t affected that business.
“We haven’t really addressed it, as far as a store policy. I’ve not seen anybody carrying a gun anywhere, actually, all over town,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s affected people down here much. I haven’t seen anybody holstering a gun. I imagine there would be a discussion about it [if more customers began entering the store wearing their handgun], but it hasn’t come up. We’re kind of looking at it as a non-issue at this point.”
Stutteville Ford General Manager Cody Tannehill said the local automobile dealership hasn’t helped any armed customers with a vehicle purchase since the law took effect.
“I haven’t seen anyone carrying a gun. I don’t know if that will change in the future, but right now, we’re not seeing anybody wearing a gun,” he said.
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