On Thursday of this week, the state of Oklahoma will take an important step on the slow return to a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. A new law comes into effect on November 1 that allows those citizens who have concealed carry permits to openly carry a firearm.
Although the constitution of these United States does not recognize any restrictions on the right of citizens to possess those means necessary for their self-defense, many state and local governments have endeavored to restrict the free exercise of such rights either through a deliberate ban, or by restriction and regulation. According to a map available at OpenCarry.org, Oklahoma is one of only seven states that does not permit "open carry" (that is, open possession of a holstered or otherwise secured firearm). The District of Columbia also forbids open carry.
The new law in Oklahoma does not adhere to the full measure of liberty enunciated in the federal constitution: rather than recognizing that all citizens have such a right, the law limits the exercise of this right to citizens who have procured a state-issued permit for concealed carry. At present, 141,000 state residents have such a permit. In a state of nearly 3.8 million people, of whom approximately 2.85 million are 18 years of age or older (and thus are eligible to vote for example). Thus, only five percent of the population of Oklahoma is even considered eligible legally to openly carry a firearm.
According to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Justice, a total of only 8,639 “sworn personnel” serve in various state and local law enforcement agencies in the state of Oklahoma. And, as self-defense advocates are quick to point out, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” And the people neither desire, nor can they afford, a police presence capable of deterring crime in all places at all times. According to self-defense advocates, the exercise of open carry by law-abiding citizens is the most effective deterrent to crime. A recent incident in Oklahoma in which it was necessary for a 12-year-old girl to shoot an alleged burglar highlights the dangers that threaten an unarmed populace.
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Photo: Replica of 1858 New Army Revolver in leather holster via Shutterstock