On November 1, 2019, Oklahoma’s permitless carry law took effect. The basics of the law making it legal for anyone 21 or over (or active or honorably discharged members of the military 18 or over) who isn’t otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm to carry a gun in public without a permit. The law makes no distinction between carrying a weapon concealed or in the open. It is completely up to the gun owner if he or she wishes to make it known that they are carrying a firearm or not.
It is very important, however, that anyone who chooses to take advantage of this new law to carry a gun understands that it does not give them complete freedom to carry a gun anytime, anywhere they want. There are still many restrictions that must be followed to avoid breaking the law. It’s also advisable that you follow some basic, common-sense guidelines if you have to interact with law enforcement while carrying a gun—whether it is loaded or not, concealed or in the open.
Interacting With Oklahoma Police While Carrying A Gun
Under 21 O.S. § 1290.8 (Oklahoma Self Defense Act) it is not required for anyone carrying a gun to notify the police unless asked by a police officer. Several other states, in contrast, require gun owners to immediately tell any police officer that they are carrying a weapon in situations such as traffic stops. The law also makes it illegal for law enforcement officers to inspect a gun unless they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.
While this portion of the law obviously grants substantial freedom to gun owners, in practice, you are probably going to be better off by being upfront about the fact that you are carrying a gun if you have to interact with Oklahoma law enforcement for anything other than minor, routine situations. When you do have to talk to the police, you should try to put yourself in the officer’s shoes.
Police officers enter into risky situations every day. Although things like traffic stops are common, an officer never knows what might happen when he or she approaches a vehicle. It can often be a stressful situation for both the officer and the driver. Anything you can do to alleviate that stress is going to make things go smoother for you.
Deciding whether or not to tell a law enforcement officer that you are carrying a weapon depends a lot on the specific situation you find yourself in. In general, if you anticipate a quick interaction with no problems, there’s probably no reason to say anything. If, on the other hand, you expect to be questioned about something, or an officer wants to search your person or property (with or without your consent) it’s going to be a good idea to tell that officer that you are armed before they continue.
Let’s say that you are walking out of a store and have a gun in a holster under your jacket when you spot a police officer and you want to ask him for directions. In this case, it doesn’t make much sense to announce that you have a gun on you. You’re just going to ask a question and be on your way.
Now, let’s say that you are stopped in your car for speeding and you have a gun locked in the glove compartment, or the trunk. The officer approaches the car and tells you that you’ve been speeding, asks for your documentation, and informs you that he’s going to check your information and write you a ticket. Again, this is routine and you’ll most likely get your ticket and be on your way. You probably don’t need to announce that you have the gun in the car.
As a final example, let’s say that you’ve been stopped by a police officer (on the street or in a vehicle) who informs you that you fit the description of someone they are looking for in connection with some sort of crime. He tells you that you are not under arrest, but requests identification and says he wants to ask you some questions.
In this case, it’s probably going to be in your best interest to tell the officer right away that you have a firearm. If the officer is already nervous because he suspects you of being a criminal, he’s going to become more nervous if he finds a gun on you that you haven’t told him about. Letting him know that you have a weapon will make things easier for both of you.
Points To Remember About Oklahoma Gun Laws
Even though you no longer need a special permit to carry a gun in Oklahoma, it’s important to remember that there are still some strict regulations you must follow to stay within the law. The following are a few things you should be aware of if you do or intend to, carry a gun in Oklahoma.
- It is unlawful for a convicted felon to carry a firearm.
- Loaded weapons in a vehicle must be locked in either an outside compartment like a trunk or an inside compartment like the glove box.
- It is illegal to carry firearms in any establishment where the primary business is the sale of liquor for consumption.
- It is illegal to carry a firearm in government buildings and courthouses.
- It is illegal to carry a firearm in primary or secondary schools except for very specific circumstances.
- It is illegal to transport a firearm in a vehicle with ammunition loaded in the firing chamber.
- You may not enter any business with a gun if the business has signs posted prohibiting guns on the premises.
- You must disclose the fact that you are carrying a gun if asked by law enforcement.
This list is not all-inclusive. If you have questions regarding a situation that is not mentioned here, feel free to use this site’s contact form to ask.
Speak With An Experienced Oklahoma Gun Law Attorney
If you have questions about Oklahoma gun laws or have been accused of violating Oklahoma gun laws, I can help. My name is Angela Singleton and I am an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney with extensive experience fighting for the rights of clients in Oklahoma’s criminal court system.
Consultations are free and confidential. You can contact me online anytime or call (405) 510-0345 to schedule an appointment. I’ll be happy to go over the details of your case, answer any questions you might have, and discuss what I can do to help you.