EDMOND (AP) — The mother of an Oklahoma homicide victim said Wednesday that she considers the state’s new law allowing residents to openly carry firearms “a step backward.”
Supporters of the legislation, which was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Mary Fallin, hail it as a way for residents to defend themselves against gun-toting attackers.
Sharron Rogers, of Oklahoma City, disagrees. Her son, Greg Rogers, was shot to death in an attempted carjacking in 2002.
“There are so many senseless killings right now, I’m just against it,” she said. “We need to find alternative measures to deal with problems, other than gun violence. Because to me we have taken steps backward.”
Rogers instead wants to see legislative support for family values.
“If we get back to the basics, the basics are families, men and women working and teaching their children right from wrong,” she said.
The law expands the state’s current concealed carry law to include openly carried weapons, a law Fallin said she was “happy” to sign because it “sends a strong message that Oklahoma values the rights of its citizens to defend themselves, their family and their property.”
“It does so in a responsible way,” Fallin said, “by requiring those citizens who choose to ‘open carry’ to undergo both firearms training and a background check.”
Under the law, individuals have to take a firearms training course and apply for a license, which includes submitting a photograph and fingerprints for a background check.
Those requirements aren’t enough for self-described gun rights advocate and avid hunter Steve Williams of Anadarko.
“How many cops have had their weapons taken away?” Williams said outside of an Edmond shopping center. “If you have a weapon out in the open and someone can see it, they can walk up behind you and grab it.”
Chamber of Commerce officials in the state said they took no position on the legislation, which prohibits weapons from government buildings, public and private school property, college campuses and parks. The law also gives private business and organizations, such as churches, the option of prohibiting weapons on their premises.
Cynthia Reid, vice president of marketing and communications with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, said Oklahoma has become part of a national movement to allow the open carry of firearms.
“The concerns that we have is that private businesses can restrict open carry, and they can,” Reid said.
“If you’re looking at them from an image perspective, Oklahoma is not the most permissive law out there, by far,” she said. “The concern that we have is that businesses can still restrict what happens on their campuses, and this law allows that.”
The State Chamber of Oklahoma took no position on the bill as long as property owners were allowed the option of prohibiting weapons on their property, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Monies.
Rogers, meanwhile, said she wants those who do openly carry weapons to keep in mind the danger of opening fire on an armed attacker.
“They got to remember that the person they’re shooting at is going to have another gun and be shooting back,” she said.