A bill currently making its way through the Oklahoma state legislature would allow citizens of the state to openly carry loaded handguns without a permit. Only six states and the District of Columbia expressly prohibit this practice, with the remaining states either specifically allowing open carry or having no law on the books prohibiting it. In recent years, the practice of openly carrying a gun has grown in popularity, as legislation that would permit it has been introduced in places like Texas, South Carolina, and Arkansas—some of the last states that have held out against it.
Proponents of open carry laws point to the Second Amendment as their justification, as open carry has never been ruled out of the Constitution in any court, and they argue that the practice is technically legal in every state that does not specifically prohibit it. They claim that weapons carried in plain sight act as a deterrent to would-be attackers and criminals, and they hold that those with malicious intent almost always conceal their weapons—a practice that is much more widely accepted.
Opponents of open carry say that relaxing attitudes toward publicly displayed guns would naturally lead to more violence and misuse of firearms. They claim that the Second Amendment does not justify open carry, and they hold that more guns out in the open will lead to more intimidation and less safety.
Should people be allowed to carry guns openly? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:
Dave Workman Senior Editor of TheGunMag.com
Ralph Shortey Republican State Senator in Oklahoma
Lindsay Nichols Staff Attorney with Legal Community Against Violence
Josh Sugarmann Founder and Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center