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 Moms Demand Action Oklahoma collected signatures at Cory Booker’s speech at the Historic Vernon Chapel AME Church in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo Courtesy of Moms Demand Action Oklahoma) 

Published 09/02/19 | Reading Time 2 min 20 sec 

By BWSTimes Staff

TULSA, Okla. — Like a wildfire sweeping the Great Plains, Moms Demand Action Oklahoma and its many volunteers collected tens of thousands of signatures on the 803 Petition to Stop Permitless Carry in Oklahoma. The objective: to get Permitless Carry as a state question on the 2020 ballot for registered voters in Oklahoma.

According to Giffords Law Center, “historically, most states either prohibited or strongly regulated the carrying of firearms in public. 

Over the past three decades, however, state laws have changed dramatically. In that time, many states have significantly weakened their laws to permit more and more people to carry guns in public places and to reduce or eliminate local law enforcement’s ability to keep potentially dangerous people from carrying guns in public.

‘Open carry’ refers to the practice of carrying openly visible firearms in public. Though most states continue to require a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon, many states now place few or no restrictions on open carry. In fact, some states have imposed draconian requirements on private businesses that wish to keep deadly weapons off their property.

By promoting gun carrying in public places, often with few restrictions, open carry can increase the likelihood of conflict, severely endangering public safety. 

  • Researchers have suggested that the presence of visible firearms may alter behavior and increase aggressive and violent behaviors.
  • Multiple studies show that restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons can increase public safety. For example, recent analyses have shown that states with weak standards for concealed carry have higher rates of violent crime and gun homicides than would be expected if the states had stricter standards for public carry.

White Supremacists have long used firearms—and permissive open carry laws—to threaten and intimidate others, with examples of such violence going back to the Reconstruction era. 

  • In 2017, a group of white supremacists protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, openly carrying military-style rifles as a means to intimidate and suppress the Constitutional rights of others.
  • White supremacists have also exploited weak open carry laws to threaten and intimidate at other rallies across the country, as well as in front of houses of worship and electoral campaign offices.

Emeka Nnaka, a community leader and motivational speaker from Tulsa signs petition 803 to get Permitless Carry as a state question on the 2020 ballot for registered voters in Oklahoma. (Photo Courtesy of Andi Bush Gunter with Moms Demand Action Oklahoma) 

Recent examples show that open carry can create substantial confusion for law enforcement officers, impeding their ability to protect public safety.

  • 911 calls from concerned citizens about people openly carrying firearms can create confusion for responding officers and can endanger both officers and gun carriers.
  • Similarly, in states with open carry laws, law enforcement agencies can have difficulties distinguishing between credible threats to public safety and legal open carry. In October 2015, a Colorado woman reported a man with a long black rifle outside her home, but officers did not immediately respond to her call because open carry is legal in the state. Shortly after the 911 call, the gun carrier shot and killed three people.
  • Open carry can also complicate police response to shootings. In the July 2016 shooting of police officers in Dallas, law enforcement struggled to distinguish between people legally carrying guns openly and the gunman responsible for the attack.

Moms Demands Action OK said, “Regardless of the final number of signatures verified, we are surprised, delighted, and very proud of what we have accomplished together in such a short time.”

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...