Mistrust in Oklahoma

ORA Doesn’t Trust You

According to the Oklahoma Rifle Association (ORA) and a good many state legislators from both sides of the aisle, people in Oklahoma are less responsible, less sensible, and less trustworthy than the people of Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and 39 other states.  Or so it would seem based on the arguments they have been voicing against proposals that the state recognize citizens’ right to bear arms out in the open.

The primary proposal, SB129, carves out exceptions to Oklahoma’s firearms carry restrictions for persons carrying their firearms in plain view as long as they are holstered, sheathed, or slung.  Like open carry laws in many states, the Oklahoma proposal would lift restrictions for anyone 18 or older and would not mandate a license or training class.  But, as seems to happen every time a state legislature begins entertaining legislation to broaden recognition of their citizens’ right to arms, the debate over open carry in Oklahoma has been conducted as though this is a new and untested idea.  There has been much hype, speculation, and hypothetical anecdotal postulating from both sides of the issue.  All of this non-evidence is presented as though the state is an isolated island nation with little or no contact with the rest of the world, much less the rest of the US.

In a letter mailed to every member of the Oklahoma House and Senate along with many media outlets, the ORA loudly declared their opposition to SB129.  In the letter they explained the reasons for their opposition as follows:

“First, The purchase of handguns by persons under the age of 21 is in violation of existing Federal Law.

Second, Allowing citizens, trained or untrained, to carry Rifles and Shotguns either in a scabbard or with a sling on city streets and into business establishments will create an atmosphere of hostility and distrust, not to mention create fear in those in our society who have an aversion to any type of firearm.

Third, The apprehension, created for the Law Enforcement Officers by the open carrying of long guns could create situations resulting in unnecessary use of deadly force.”

The first point is a distortion of the truth.  While 18 to 21-year olds may not legally purchase handguns from federally licensed gun dealers, they have always been able to possess them and to legally acquire them through private purchase, inheritance, or as gifts from parents, relatives, or others.

The next two points distortions in logic; that carrying guns will scare people who are afraid of guns and that openly carried guns will excite police officers to the point that they will start shooting people they shouldn’t. 

Even looked at this in a vacuum these arguments are nonsensical, but when put into the context of the experience of open carry in the US, they are simply idiotic.

There are 12 states which have virtually no restrictions on open carry and another 16 which recognize the right with few limitations.  Another 13 require a license to exercise the right.  One state, California, has very liberal open carry laws in rural areas, but restricts it in urban areas.  The only states which completely forbid open carry are New York and Illinois – where the states are run by gun-hating big city politicians – and 5 Southern states, including Oklahoma, where the citizens’ rights to arms have never been restored since they were abrogated after the Civil War.

All of the speculation, hypothesizing, and hand wringing going on in Oklahoma, and the other states where citizens are actively trying to regain their lost rights, simply diverts attention from the facts.  Open carry has been thoroughly tested and it has proven to generate none of the problems raised by the fear-mongers.  There can be debate about whether such laws effectively reduce crime and the tactical wisdom of the practice, but these things are, again, just side issues.  What really matters is that given the opportunity, people exercise their right to arms in a responsible manner.  The record proves it and no amount of “what ifs” or “there was this one guys” can compete with clear irrefutable evidence from the states where rights are recognized.

We’re used to facing irrational emotionalism and arrogant elitism from the hoplophobes, but it is deeply troubling when the same irrational arguments are being put forward by the leaders of a state rifle association.  Still, this mentality should not come as any great surprise as many gun club and association boards have exhibited similar narrow-mindedness in the past with bans on the use of Evil Black Rifles, military camouflage, and “humanoid” targets on their shooting ranges. 

 I don’t know whether the membership of ORA will rise up in outrage at these Directors and their decision, but I do know that ORA has lost all credibility within the rights community – and probably within the legislature.


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