On November 1, an Oklahoma law went into effect that allows residents with a license to openly carry their guns in the state. But six days after the law’s passage, a man tested the limits of the policy by walking into a polling place on Election Day with a holstered handgun on his waist. He was turned away, but returned later wearing a “disguise,” and the now-concealed gun was only discovered after he had voted. Oklahoma’s News 9 reports:
Police say on Election Day, Ethan walked into the Fountains at Canterbury Retirement Village to vote. Police say other voters noticed a handgun hanging from Ethan’s hip and some complained. Sisson was shown the door by elections monitors because open carry in public areas like polling places is still against the law.
SGT. JENNIFER WARDLOW: “They suggested possibly going out to his car putting it into his trunk, and that he would then be allowed to come back and vote.”
Police say Sisson returned two hours later, wearing a jacket and a hat that partially covered his face. He was allowed to vote. The arrest warrant says Sisson then took off his baseball cap and jacket and exposed his handgun on his hip. Ethan Sisson then told the inspector it was his right to have his gun with him. Sisson was then ordered to leave.
Oklahoma’s new “open carry” law allows individuals with permits to openly carry guns in public and into many types of businesses including restaurants, grocery stores and banks, unless they post a sign prohibiting guns. But even the generous new law does not permit guns – concealed or otherwise — at the polling place or government buildings.
Among the concerns of the law’s opponents were that those with permits would inadvertently carry guns into a school or other prohibited place, and that these facilities would be ill-prepared to screen for armed citizens. After the law’s passage, applications for handgun permits spiked 40 percent. One senator justified the law by saying it was needed to fend off attacks from wild turkeys.