Legislators Hopeful About Open-Carry Laws Under New State Government

Sunday, January 23rd 2011, 10:09 pm
By: News 9

Jon Jordan, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Two state lawmakers said they will introduce bills this year for a second time to allow the open-carry of guns in the state.

Similar legislation passed the Republican controlled legislature last year but was vetoed by the governor at the time, former Gov. Brad Henry. But with a new Republican governor, supporters of open-carry laws said they expect a different outcome.

"It's a Second Amendment right and there shouldn't be any restrictions at all on the Second Amendment," said Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore.

Wesselhoft is one lawmaker who has decided to draft legislation that will allow Oklahomans to openly carry their guns in public. Wesselhoft pointed to other states as reason why it necessary.

"In states that have passed open-carry, it has not been a cowboy atmosphere where everyone has got guns strapped on. That's what opponents would like to portray," Wesselhoft said.

Instead Wesselhoft said he believes open-carry laws would portray a clear message to criminals.

"Obviously it sends a loud message-- hands off, stay clear of me because I can protect myself," Wesselhoft said.

Cleo Land is an employee at Heartland Outdoors in Edmond and has over 30 plus years of experience as an Edmond police officer. He said he worries those like Wesselhoft have the wrong message.

"I prefer the element of surprise when it comes to carrying firearms," Land said.

Land said he believes openly carrying a weapon won't deter criminals but instead make those who choose to openly carry a target.

"If I walk into a room being just the average Joe, whether it be murder in mind or robbery in mind, that's the first guy I'm going to be targeting," Land said.

Wesselhoft said his legislation would allow more people to carry guns by eliminating the need for expensive conceal-carry classes. Also under his bill, those who are considered mentally unstable as well as certain criminals will be banned from openly carrying weapons. He also said his bill will include legislation that prevents anyone from openly carrying firearms in areas where there are already restrictions in places for those who conceal carry.

One thing Wesselhoft's bill doesn't target is universities and schools. He said there will be other legislation that will address those concerns.