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Oklahoma Dude Traipsing Around With AR-15, Pistol, Tactical Vest Just Fine, But Brass Knuckles A Crime
Just like the Founders wanted!
In Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, last week, a whole bunch of panicked citizens called 911 to report a guy walking around town wearing a tactical vest and carrying a loaded AR-15 and a holstered revolver. First, employees at the courthouse locked the doors and called 911 when he tried to enter wearing the vest, but otherwise unarmed. Then he showed up at a strip mall, this time fully armed, leading to a bunch of 911 calls. He went into an AT&T store, and terrified employees ran out the back of the store and, again, called 911. Finally, he started walking toward a Target store, prompting more 911 calls from people who thought they were about to witness or become victims in another mass shooting, which are all the rage these days.
But none of those incidents were actually crimes, thanks to Oklahoma's gun laws, which allow open carry of long guns and pistols, although at the moment Oklahomans are still prohibited from open carry of tactical nuclear weapons. It's also legal to have a concealed weapon in most places, because it is a "constitutional carry" state, which means the more guns, the better. No license or permit is needed for either open or concealed carry. Openly carried handguns do at least have to be in a holster, and concealed weapons have to be completely out of sight, so there's that.
As for the heavily armed gent in Broken Arrow, while cops did warn him that he was going to generate more 911 calls if he kept walking around looking like that, he wasn't breaking any laws. After he went into the AT&T store and more calls came in, cops did find out that the dude had a misdemeanor warrant ( unrelated to the walking around armed bit), so they arrested him before he entered the Target.
When they searched him, they found a set of brass knuckles, which actually are illegal in Oklahoma, what with there being no well-funded brass knuckle lobby. They also found he had another firearm, a .50 caliber semiautomatic handgun, which was concealed, but Oklahoma only allows handguns up to .45 caliber, so he was charged for that one, too.
So just to be clear: Terrified people called 911 again and again on the scary looking dude carrying a small arsenal, but it was all legal until cops found the brass knuckles and the .50 caliber handgun.
We'll assume this disturbing incident will result in swift action by the Oklahoma legislature to overturn any remaining limits on handgun caliber.
Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton told the Tulsa World that the fellow who looked like he was ready for a shootout was in fact not breaking the law, but added,
quite honestly, nobody needs to be walking down the street with a rifle. [...]
But I don’t make the laws; we just try to live by them and do a very difficult job in a world that’s got those people in it.
Walton explained that the guy hadn't been carrying any weapons when he went into the courthouse, and the AT&T store didn't have a sign saying weapons aren't allowed. And he never actually tried to enter the Target, so no crime there either.
Walton said that such situations makes law enforcement's job "a lot harder," what with people being allowed to carry assault weapons all over the place.
“If I spook the right person, they might send me to meet Jesus,” Walton said. “Here’s a guy with a rifle that can take me and a lot of other people out, but he’s not doing anything. Now I got to make a decision. That decision is a lot tougher now.”
Now, before you start thinking Walton is some kind of gun-hating radical, we should also point out that in February 2020, the sheriff also declared Rogers County a "Second Amendment Sanctuary," which doesn't actually mean anything legally, but signaled he loves guns and the good citizens who carry them for freedom, and will never ever take them away for tyrannical purposes. At the time, he said that "Good people do not get in trouble with guns, they just don't.”
Mind you, we suppose "good people" only includes those who wander around carrying an AR-15 and pistol of the proper caliber. Add in brass knuckles and you're dealing with a dangerous criminal.
Also too, at a forum on active shooting incidents last week, Tulsa Police Captain Mike Eckert explained that since law enforcement is best equipped to determine the nuances of whether particular armed citizens are behaving lawfully, citizens should call 911 if they feel somebody might be dangerous, and let cops deal with it.
“If somebody is causing you concern or putting you in fear for some reason, that’s what 911 is designed for,” Eckert said.
“With Oklahoma being an open-carry state, it’s not against the law to carry a firearm, but it is against the law to commit a crime with a firearm. Sometimes that can be very muddy waters to deal with or work your way through.”
A Broken Arrow police spox also told the World that it might be a good idea for folks to be familiar with state laws, to help them decide whether to call 911, but go ahead and do so if you see something you think is suspicious. So if you see something, say something, just don't assume cops can stop anyone. Or something.
Sheriff Walton also appears to have thought carefully about the subtleties of who exactly is a good guy with a gun, as illustrated by the incident in Broken Arrow.
“I don’t expect everyone to become educated on the fine line of the law. If you’re waiting too long to make that decision (to call 911), that in itself is life-threatening.”
The best thing to do under current Oklahoma law is to call the police to make the determination, he said.
“I think of: What would I want my daughters-in-law to do if they had my grandkids and saw someone like that?” Walton said. “My answer would be: Call the police. 911. Let us go to work.”
Then, assuming the scruffy guy looking like a potential mass shooter doesn't have any brass knuckles on him, he can go about his day and we can all rejoice that the Second Amendment protects all our freedoms.
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