Oklahoma State Senator Justifies Need For ‘Open Carry’ Gun Law Due To Threat From Wild Turkeys

In Oklahoma, state lawmakers are poised to enact an “open carry” law which would allow residents with a permit to display their guns in grocery stores, libraries, and anywhere else in public. The measure is expected to be passed by the legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

Oklahoma law currently requires that people must generally conceal their handguns. In 2010, then-Gov. Brad Henry (D) vetoed an open carry bill because state police expressed concern that it would make it hard for them “to distinguish criminals from law-abiding citizens.” Keith Barenberg, the president of the Oklahoma State Troopers Association, maintains his concern: “Law-enforcement officers will be that much more jumpy and nervous if they see a gun.” And such confrontations could lead to loss of innocent life. As Norman McNickle, president of the Oklahoma Association of Police Chiefs, put it: “How does the first arriving officers know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are? It makes their job exponentially harder.”

Proponents of the “open carry” legislation, like Tim Gillespie, director of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, claim the measure is necessary because “we live in a dangerous world.” So dangerous, according to Republican state Senator Ralph Shortey, that people need the open display of guns to help fend off attacks from wild turkeys:

During committee discussions, Shortey argued that he shouldn’t be required to pay fees and get a license to carry a weapon. Here’s how he justified that:

“I was in oil and gas,” Shortey said. “I was out on a lease at one time and I got attacked by a turkey. Wait until you get attacked by a turkey. You will know the fear that a turkey can invoke in a person. And so I beat it with a club. That was all I could do.

“I wish that I had a gun with me,” he said. “And I started carrying a gun in my truck after that without a license because I didn’t want to get attacked by a mountain lion. Turkeys are bad enough.”

The Tulsa World opined, “Open-carry is needed to protect us from enraged turkeys? Seriously?” The editoral joked, “Maybe Oklahoma’s stand your ground law covers turkey attacks.”


Sen. Shortey is full of “asinine” ideas. As ThinkProgress noted earlier this year, Shortey introduced a ludicrous and unnecessary bill that would prohibit the manufacturing and sale of food “which contains aborted human fetuses.” He also has proposed legislation to “abolish the state Court of Criminal Appeals and…to eliminate the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s power to review the constitutionality of laws.”