Oklahoma Is a Constitutional Carry State
Video Transcribed: Hey, I am Oklahoma attorney, Brian Jackson. I work with the criminal defense attorneys at Wirth Law Office in Oklahoma. I would like to talk about concealed carry and traffic stops. In Oklahoma, you have the right to carry a firearm for your personal defense without a permit. We are a constitutional carry state, you do not need a permit. Although the state does issue carry permits, and they do have their value, you don’t have to have a permit to carry a weapon.
Now, there are some rules about that. You can carry a handgun, it can’t be bigger than 45 calibers and you are required among other things, if you are stopped by law enforcement, whether it’s in your vehicle or on the street, you must disclose the fact that you are armed. And you’re required under law to disclose this fact as soon as you are reasonably able to.
So for example at a traffic stop, you should, if the officer approaches you and asks you, “Do you know why I stopped you?” Which, is a typical question you get. You should say something like, “No officer.” And then when they proceed to ask for your license and registration, you should say, “Officer, I just want to let you know, I am concealed carrying today.” And then you have to disclose where your weapon is. You should always do this as quickly as possible for several reasons.
One, it’s legally required and you can get in trouble and they can charge you with a crime and confiscate your firearm if you don’t. But the other reason is if the police discover later that you’re armed and you didn’t tell them, that could very quickly escalate the situation and it can make things very dangerous. I’ve been stopped a number of times while armed and I can tell you that if you are upfront and honest with the police that you are armed and you’re lawfully armed, they don’t care.
I’ve only ever had a cop disarm me one time and he wasn’t aggressive at all about it. He just let me know that’s what he wanted to do, it’s for everyone’s safety. I was fine with that. I’ve never had a problem with the police while being armed. As long as you are behaving in a reasonable manner, Oklahoma police will generally speak not have a problem with you being armed. And there are a few other safety rules to follow if you’re carrying and you encounter the police.
Keep your hands visible, this is especially important at night. If you get stopped at night, it’s a good idea to turn the dome light on in your car, put your hands on the wheel so the cop can see them when he approaches your window. Most police officers will thank you for that. Also, after you’ve disclosed that you’re armed and where the weapon is, you should ask the officer’s permission to let them know before you go and reach for your license and proof of insurance. That way the officer knows exactly what you’re doing and that you’re not trying to reach for your weapon.
Most officers will appreciate that. Some officers may tell you that’s not necessary, but it’s always a good safety rule so that there’s no question about what you’re doing. If you are armed, obviously you do not want to behave in an aggressive manner with the police. They can and will take that as a deadly threat and that can result … and at a minimum, you may get arrested. But you can also end up with them responding either with a taser, pepper spray, or a firearm.
And any of those things are going to be a bad deal for you. Do not reach for your weapon, don’t. If you show the cop … There’s an old joke you sometimes hear in self-defense classes for people that are looking to get a permit, that if you show the cop your gun, they’re going to show you theirs and you won’t be happy. So, do not reach for your weapon, don’t put your hand on your weapon. That’s very important because if you do that, that’s a huge safety risk.
And again, at a minimum, it could get you arrested. It could be construed as an assault and you might beat it later, but you just don’t want to go there. And if the officer wants to disarm you, this is one of those situations where you’re probably better off complying. Although verbally clarify to the officer that you’re going to allow them to take your weapon, but you’re not consenting to any search. If a police officer approaches you when you’re on the street, it’s probably, again, it’s a better idea to comply than not.
This is not a good time to get into a confrontation with the police because if you are armed and you become confrontational, it becomes a much more dangerous situation because there are guns involved. So the bottom line rule when dealing with the police if you’re armed is to be extremely respectful. Don’t behave aggressively, don’t raise your voice, be compliant, make sure you tell them as soon as you possibly can that you’re armed, and follow the directions. If you do those things, you shouldn’t really have an issue.
Most Oklahoma cops are used to dealing with people who are armed because it’s pretty common. A lot of people carry guns, and the ones that don’t carry guns typically carry knives. So they’re used to that. And as long as you’re not behaving in a way that makes them think you’re dangerous, or like you’re a criminal, they generally speaking won’t give you a problem. Most police officers aren’t looking to try to jack with you over that, but you do need to be smart about how you interact.