Beginning Friday, concealed carry permits will be optional for adults in Oklahoma who can legally possess firearms.
In February, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed HB 2597, upholding a campaign promise made last year. The measure leaves the state’s current concealed carry licensing program intact while recognizing that an adult aged 21 and up and is lawfully able to possess a gun can carry one concealed without such a permit. It also allows military service members at least 18 years of age to carry. The law will become effective Nov. 1 after shrugging off a legal challenge that made it all the way to the state Supreme Court and a petition drive backed by Moms Demand Action.
“After 112 years, constitutional carry returns the fundamental right to self-defense to every law-abiding Oklahoman,” said Don Spencer, president, Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, in a statement. “By eliminating financial barriers imposed by government permitting schemes, constitutional carry ensures that law-abiding, but economically disadvantaged Oklahomans can always protect themselves in times of crisis.”
Despite contention by the advocates against constitutional carry that firearm-related deaths will rise in Oklahoma under the new law, there is little to suggest that states, where similar policies have been adopted, have witnessed such a phenomenon. In fact, just the opposite has been witnessed.
According to data from FBI Uniform Crime Reports, Arizona, a state which adopted permitless carry in 2010, saw homicide rates decline from 6.4 per 100,000 to 5.1 by 2018. Mississippi, which adopted permitless carry in 2016, saw homicide rates fall last year to the lowest numbers in decades. Three of the four states with the lowest murder rates in 2018 are all constitutional carry states.
At least 16 states now recognize some form of permitless concealed carry.