Section 26 of the bill of rights to the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma states, “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.”
Although Oklahoma is an open carry state, many regulations must be followed to avoid potentially serious charges that could result in time spent in jail or prison.
The most common Oklahoma misdemeanor gun charges are carrying a weapon, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, reckless conduct with a firearm, transporting a loaded firearm in your vehicle, and pointing a weapon. They are all criminal charges.
It should also be noted that it is illegal to carry firearms in government buildings, on school grounds, places where alcohol is consumed, and professional sporting events, even if the person doing so holds a concealed carry permit.
What are Oklahoma’s Gun Laws?
Owning a gun is a privilege granted by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, but understanding Oklahoma-specific gun laws is a slightly more complicated matter. Being convicted of a firearm charge in Oklahoma can carry several permanent consequences, including the inability to legally own guns and the loss of job and housing opportunities.
With the never-ending controversy surrounding our country’s gun laws, it is now more important than ever to understand exactly what your legal rights to gun ownership are.
Angela Singleton’s expertise in Oklahoma’s firearm laws has allowed her to explore several legal and technical defenses related to firearm charges and weapon laws, and she has committed herself to help residents understand Oklahoma’s gun laws and Oklahoma’s self defense laws to do her part in creating a safer state for all.
What Factors Can Aggravate A Misdemeanor Gun Charge in Oklahoma?
Factors that can aggravate a misdemeanor gun charge are all related to how the gun is used. Under Oklahoma gun law, what makes a gun charge a misdemeanor or a felony is based on what law enforcement claims you did with that firearm. If they claim that you had a loaded handgun in your vehicle, it would be charged as a misdemeanor. If they allege you had a loaded firearm in your vehicle and also claim you were selling drugs, you could be facing a felony charge of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. It’s not that a misdemeanor can’t be bumped up to a felony, it’s either they think they have evidence to charge you with a misdemeanor, or they think they have evidence to charge you with a felony.
What Factors Can Aggravate A Misdemeanor Gun Charge in Oklahoma?
Factors that can aggravate a misdemeanor gun charge are all related to how the gun is used. Under Oklahoma law, what makes a gun charge a misdemeanor or a felony is based on what law enforcement claims you did with that firearm. If they claim that you had a loaded handgun in your vehicle, it would be charged as a misdemeanor. If they allege you had a loaded firearm in your vehicle and also claim you were selling drugs, you could be facing a felony charge of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. It’s not that a misdemeanor can’t be bumped up to a felony, it’s either they think they have evidence to charge you with a misdemeanor, or they think they have evidence to charge you with a felony.
What Are the Felony Gun Crimes in Oklahoma?
The most common felony gun crimes are possession of a firearm by a felon after a former conviction (gun ownership is prohibited for convicted felons), possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, robbery with a firearm, using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a firearm, commonly known as a drive-by, shooting with intent to kill, and assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
What Are 85% of Crimes? How Do They Relate to Gun Crimes in Oklahoma?
An 85% crime is a crime that is specifically listed under Title 21, Section 13.1 of the Oklahoma statute, which says that if you are serving a sentence for one of those listed crimes, you have to serve at least 85% of your sentence before you become eligible to be considered for parole. The firearm charges that are listed as 85% crimes are robbery with a firearm (armed robbery), using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a firearm (drive-by shooting), shooting with the intent to kill, and assault and battery with the deadly weapon.
What Is the Sentence for Conviction on a Misdemeanor Gun Charge?
For the most common misdemeanor charges, carrying a weapon carries up to 30 days in jail. Carrying a firearm while intoxicated, reckless conduct with the firearm, transporting a loaded firearm in your vehicle can all carry a penalty of 10 days up to 6 months. Pointing a weapon carries a sentence of up to a year in jail.
What About Felony Convictions?
If you are charged with possession of a firearm after a former felony conviction, you are looking at 1 to 10 years in prison. A person convicted of any of the following offenses is prohibited from carrying a firearm:
- assault and battery that is aggravated or that seriously injures the victim
- domestic abuse
- violation of a domestic abuse protection order, or
- illegal drug possession or use.
Possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony is 2 to 10 years. Robbery with the firearm carries 5 years up to life in prison, and using a motor vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a firearm, drive-by, is a minimum of 2 years up to life in prison. Shooting with intent to kill, and assault and battery with the deadly weapon both carry up to life in prison.
How Does It Affect the Charge If the Gun Was Used in The Commission of a Crime?
What will happen is you will most likely be charged with the specific crime of possession of a firearm in the commission of the felony. You may see this charge pop up, even if the firearm wasn’t being used in the alleged crime. It is one of the gun crimes that is frequently overcharged, and often the government does not have sufficient evidence to prove it.
What Defenses Can Be Used in Gun-Related Cases in Oklahoma?
Defenses that can be used in gun-related cases depend on the charge. The most common defense is that the weapon was not in your possession, or it was not being used in the manner being charged. Possession is an intentional act, and often it’s difficult for the government to prove that you had knowledge and intent to possess the firearm.
Another common defense is self-defense. Oklahoma has a longstanding tradition which it has turned into laws that protect the citizen’s rights to defend themselves and others with a firearm. That is to say, you have the right to stand your ground, protect your home and family from an intruder, and if threatened with deadly force, you can protect yourself or others with deadly force.
What are the Differences in Oklahoma’s Gun Laws Versus Federal Gun Laws?
Because the right to bear arms is a fundamental right for US citizens, many take this to mean that owning a gun is as simple as going out to buy one from a licensed firearms vendor.
This is far from the truth, however, and doing so can result in hefty fines, firearm seizure, and harsh legal repercussions down the road. Oklahoma has some the of most gun-friendly laws in the nation, but understanding the difference between federal guidelines and Oklahoma-specific guidelines is critical in deciding to buy, possess or carry a gun on one’s person in the state.
Some of the major differences between federal and state guidelines in firearm law in Oklahoma are as follows:
|Waiting Period||No waiting period before the purchase of a firearm.||No waiting period. A background check may be required, and so long as it does not take longer than three business days to complete, it is legal to immediately transfer firearms to a buyer or transferee.|
|MACHINE GUNS||Unlawful, unless in compliance with federal laws and regulations.||Legal.|
|Purchase Limit||No purchase limit.||No purchase limit.|
|Registration||No registration requirements||None.|
|Concealed Carry Permit||Concealed Carry License (“CCL”) required; a permit issued in one jurisdiction allows concealed carry anywhere in the state.||None.|
|Purchasing a Firearm||Same as federal guidelines. Requires the recipient to be 18 years or older, provide an ID and submit to a background check (only if purchasing from a shop)||Transactions between unlicensed private parties in the same state do not require documentation. However, purchasing firearms across state lines requires transfer to a federal firearms licensee in the buyer’s state.|
I Own a Legally Purchased Gun and Wish to Apply for a Concealed Carry License (CCL)
If you own a legally purchased gun, information on obtaining a CCL typically be found by contacting your county sheriff’s office (or city police department, if applicable). These departments are well-equipped to not only answer any questions you may have, but to also provide a copy of CCL policy and application as well.
The following is a generalized list of requirements to receive a CCL in the state of Oklahoma. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, as certain felonies or disqualifications may result in a temporary (or permanent) ban on receiving CCL issue in the state:
- Be a US citizen and a resident of Oklahoma
- Be at least 21 years of age;
- Be free of criminal convictions that would disqualify the applicant from CCL issue;
- Be of good moral character;
- Show good cause to receive a CCL;
- Be free from any psychological conditions that may affect applicant suitability; and
- Complete any required training.
Who is Prohibited from Owning or Possessing Firearms in Oklahoma?
People who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms in Oklahoma generally fall into one of two categories:
- Any person convicted of a state or federal felony or anyone that is currently on probation for a misdemeanor or felony including deferred sentences; and
- Any person who, in a court of law, is found to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness, suffer from mental incompetence to stand trial, who is not guilty because of insanity or is addicted to a narcotic drug.
Are Oklahoma’s Gun Laws Effective in Reducing Gun Violence?
Laws surrounding guns and firearms—both in Oklahoma and across the country—are a constant opportunity for legal reform. Oklahoma consistently ranks as one of the most gun-friendly states in the country, leaving it up to question if lax gun laws help with gun safety in the state that ranks number 8 in gun deaths.
Recently, a bill just passed in the House that would allow Oklahomans to carry a gun openly without a permit and will be up for Senate vote next.
If passed, House Bill 3098 would only allow non-felon individuals who legally own a weapon and are over 21 to carry unconcealed weapons for defensive or peaceful purposes. While lawmakers think House Bill 3098 simply reinforces the Second Amendment, some feel strongly that gun permits should be in place as a safeguard.
In states such as California with much stricter gun laws, substantial strides have been taken to not only reduce firearm-related fatalities but to also combat illegal firearms trafficking and allow firearm seizure from prohibited persons.
Between 1992 and 2014, California saw at least a 58 percent decrease in firearm-related deaths, compared to the 27 percent national decrease during that same period.
Contact an Experienced Gun Charges Lawyers
Being accused of violating gun laws in Oklahoma is not something to take lightly, and it’s not something you should try to handle alone. The best thing you can do for yourself is to contact a competent and knowledgeable gun charges lawyer as soon as possible.
We are Oklahoma City-based criminal defense lawyers, well versed in Oklahoma gun laws. Contact us online today for a free consultation or call (405) 250-6769. We’ll be happy to go over the details of your case and discuss how we can help you.