Oklahoma Becomes 15th Permitless Gun-Carry State

Second state this year to drop permits

A customer shops for a pistol / Getty Images
February 28, 2019

Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt (R.) signed a bill into law on Wednesday that eliminated permitting requirements for concealed gun carry inside the state.

The bill, H.B. 2597, would allow anyone who is 21 years old or older to legally carry a concealed firearm so long as they are legally allowed to possess a firearm. It also includes exemptions for anyone between the age of 18 and 21 to be able to carry without a permit so long as they are a member of the military, national guard, or are an honorably discharged veteran.

Oklahoma follows South Dakota as the second state to adopt a permitless carry—often referred to as "constitutional carry"—in 2019. It is now the 15th state to adopt such a system. Twenty-seven other states and the District of Columbia employ a "shall-issue" system where those who pass background checks and meet other requirements must be given permits to carry. The other eight states employ a "may-issue" system where those who pass the checks and meet the stated requirements may still be denied permits by government officials.

Governor Stitt said the law would protect the Second Amendment rights of his constituents.

"As I traveled all over the state to all 77 counties, I heard from Oklahomans all over that they wanted us to protect their right to bear arms," Stitt told the Tulsa World. "I think the best defense for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

While the bill passed by a wide margin with a vote of 40-6 in the state senate and a vote of 70-30 in the state house, some Democrats opposed the bill as too dangerous.

"We are a top 10 state in the worst quality of life for women and children," Sen. Carri Hicks (D., Oklahoma City) said, according to the paper. "I think this particular law is further opening the gate to some devastation on those two particular groups."

"In my district, more guns are not better, so I will be voting no," Sen. Kevin Matthews (D., Tulsa) said.

The National Rifle Association cheered the new law as a victory for gun-rights advocates.

"On behalf of the NRA's five-million members, we would like to thank Governor Stitt for signing this important legislation into law," Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. "This law is a common sense measure that allows law-abiding Oklahomans to exercise their fundamental right to self-protection in the manner that best suits their needs."

The law doesn't go into effect until Nov. 1, 2019.