Alvin Smith, Northeast Oklahoma City
Context: Smith said he supports the Second Amendment but has concerns that open-carry gun laws could end badly for minorities, especially black men, if residents get into a verbal altercation. Smith said he does not understand the need for open-carry laws when people can carry a concealed weapon, adding he would not feel safer openly carrying a handgun.
Jeffrey Hickman, Speaker, Oklahoma House
Context: Hickman co-authored the bill that legalized open carry in Oklahoma in 2012, but says he himself would probably not carry a firearm openly because of the risk of being targeted by criminals. Still, he said, legalizing open carry may benefit others, including rural residents who are not around other people as often and don’t need to conceal a weapon.
A Deeper Look:
Oklahoma has some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation, according to news reports and sites promoting or opposing more gun regulation. In 2012, the state broadened its handgun license to cover open carry as well as concealed carry. That year, nearly 40,000 people obtained a license, followed by 60,000 in 2013 and 45,000 in 2014, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation data show. More than two-thirds of license holders are men. About 1 percent of applicants were denied a license. Below are racial breakdowns for license holders.