Henry vetoes open carry
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Published: 14-May-2010

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 14-May-2010

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry today (Friday, May 14) vetoed legislation that would have allowed Oklahomans to wear handguns in public view.  

Under current state law, properly trained and licensed citizens can carry concealed handguns for their protection. House Bill 3354, the so-called open carry law, would have expanded that statute to legalize the public display of such weapons.  

Proponents of open carry laws have said criminals will be discouraged from committing lawless acts if other citizens are publicly displaying their weapons on the street. Some law enforcement officials have disagreed, and Henry pointed to those voices. The governor said such a scenario makes it more difficult for officers to determine the difference between criminals and law-abiding citizens at a crime scene or domestic disturbance.

“I’m a strong supporter of the right to bear arms and have earned an A rating from the NRA, but this measure does nothing to strengthen 2nd Amendment protections,” said Gov. Henry.  “We already allow trained and licensed Oklahomans to protect themselves by carrying concealed handguns, and it doesn’t make anyone safer to wear a holster and display that weapon to the rest of the public.  On the contrary, it makes it more difficult and dangerous for law enforcement officers to try to sort out the good guys and bad guys when they arrive at a crime scene.”

The full and unedited text of the governor’s veto message on House Bill 3354 follows:

“This is to advise you that on this date, pursuant to the authority vested in me by Section 11 and 12 of Article VI of the Oklahoma Constitution to approve or object to legislation presented to me, I have VETOED House Bill 3354.  As a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and the holder of an A rating from the National Rifle Association, I have consistently supported and approved legislation that preserves and strengthens an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms. However, House Bill 3354 does nothing to enhance 2nd Amendment protections and could ultimately endanger public citizens and law enforcement officers. State law already authorizes appropriately trained and licensed citizens to carry concealed firearms for their protection and there is no compelling safety reason or 2nd amendment argument to expand the existing statute.  On the contrary, law enforcement officials have raised concerns about the unintended consequences of citizens openly brandishing weapons in public places and have said such a law would make their jobs more difficult and dangerous.  Instead of making our streets safer, HB 3354 could ultimately make them more hazardous.  The legislation could also damage Oklahoma’s image as a safe, friendly state with a great quality of life, making it less attractive to new business and industry and negatively impacting future prosperity.”

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