Reality of ‘open carry’

published in The Journal Record | November 1, 2012

By Kathy Neal

Effective Thursday, Oklahomans with valid gun licenses will be able to “open carry” in many public places. Lots of folks think they’ll be able to tote their handguns with them at all times. Not so.

The Oklahoma Self-Defense Act restricts where guns may be carried. No-carry zones include: municipal, state and federal government buildings; meetings of city, state, county or federal officials; school board meetings; legislative meetings; primary and secondary school property, colleges, universities and technology center school property; sports arenas during professional sporting events and places where pari-mutuel wagering is authorized (horse races); and prisons, jails or detention facilities. Oklahomans may not carry in bars and restaurants serving low-point beer or alcoholic beverages.

Prior to the passage of the act, employees were allowed to have guns in their vehicles on the employer’s parking lot as long as they were locked in or attached to the vehicle. Effective Thursday, employees are allowed to keep ammunition in their vehicles on company property, as well.

Oklahoma businesses still have the right to prohibit weapons in their buildings. Employers may adopt policies banning employees from bringing guns or weapons of any type into the workplace. This includes concealed or unconcealed handguns. Employers who wish to restrict weapons in the workplace should adopt a “no weapons in the building” policy, distribute it to the workforce, and post it conspicuously. This policy should also prohibit ammunition in the workplace.

Oklahoma colleges, universities and technology centers can prohibit weapons in their buildings, but, like businesses and employers, students have the right to keep handguns in their vehicles on school parking lots if stored as required by law and not removed from the vehicle without the prior consent of the college or university president or technology school administrator. Oklahoma college or university presidents or technology school administrators can give written consent for handguns to be carried on school property under certain circumstances.

There is a cause of action for an individual who brings a lawsuit to enforce the right to keep guns and ammo in locked vehicles on company parking lots. The individual who wins gets actual damages, an injunction, court costs, and attorney fees taxed against the person, property owner, employer or business who violates the act.

The reality of “open carry” for Oklahoma is here.

This article appeared in the November 1, 2012, issue of The Journal Record. It is reproduced with permission from the publisher. © The Journal Record Publishing Co.