Several large Oklahoma police departments got no calls from citizens concerned about firearms yesterday, the first day for the law allowing people with a state-issued permit to openly carry certain handguns in public, The Oklahoman reports. “It feels like freedom to us; it feels very liberating,” said Bryan Hull, who runs a towing service in Oklahoma City and co-founded the Oklahoma Open Carry Association. Hull and two dozen others celebrated the arrival of loosened gun restrictions by bringing their holstered weapons to breakfast shortly after midnight at a pancake house. Restrictions remain in place at government buildings, bars, and professional sporting events, among others, but the law is meant to be more permissive than restrictive.
Businesses and private property owners can continue to prohibit firearms, carried openly or concealed, but citizens maintain the right to store them in their vehicles on private and government property. More than 141,000 active concealed carry permits in Oklahoma are now “carry permits.” Hull said residents can expect to see people carrying guns on sidewalks, in grocery stores, and at restaurants. Open carry is about self protection and about demonstrating that gun owners are responsible, law-abiding citizens, he said. “But it also provides a deterrent factor against criminals,” he said, noting the gun strapped to his hip prevented a robbery at his office, where he regularly carries it openly. Opponents fear more guns will lead to more violence.