|Updated: 11/02/2012 9:09 am
||Published: 11/01/2012 5:43 pm
As of 12:01 Thursday morning, Oklahomans can now openly carry firearms in public, and plenty of people in the Tulsa area were already exercising their new right Thursday afternoon.
The law requires those who openly carry to have a handgun license. There are a handful of places the law does not allow people to carry weapons openly or concealed: any public meeting, bars and taverns, on college campuses, inside government buildings, school campuses, or at any professional sporting event.
Additionally, businesses have the right to decide whether they will allow armed people inside. But businesses that post signs banning firearms should be considered gun-free zones.
But plenty of businesses are embracing the law, like Trails End Barbecue in Owasso, which hosted a luncheon Thursday for the Oklahoma Open Carry Association.
"It's a big deal," Bryan Hull, one of the co-founders of OOCA, said. "There's 43 other states where this has been practiced, and they have gatherings like this all the time. And nothing bad happens."
Hull said he expects the number of businesses that allow people to carry their guns inside will be much higher than the number that don't.
"I can go by what we saw when we got conceal carry passed in 1995," he said. "A lot of no gun signs went up. And they came down pretty quickly."
The change of heart was mostly attributable to main reasons.
"The no gun signs are a fallacy," Hull said. "Criminals don't care about that. As a matter of fact, they may actually be attracted to those."
"Walk up to a door, you see [a no firearms sign]. If you have a choice, you don't disarm and go on in and spend your money. You turn around and get in your car and go to the competitor."
Convenience stores like QuikTrip do not plan to ban people openly carrying. Neither do several banks in the state, including Bank of Oklahoma.
Both businesses own locations in other states that previously had open carry laws, and found their businesses were not affected by the gun laws.
Plenty of national chains are on board as well.
"Starbucks, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, there's a bunch of others that are national chains," Hull said. "They have made the decision not to take a political stand on this, but rather to just allow whatever state law allows."
Hull said he acknowledges that businesses have the right to stop him at the door. But now that he and more than 140,000 other Oklahomans now have the right to openly carry, businesses who decide not to allow them in could end up hurting themselves more than they realize.
"We want to support local business," he said. "But if they put up a sign telling us they don't want us there, then we'll honor their wishes and go somewhere else."