Rep. Wesselhoft Open Carry Justification

Many opponents of gun ownership and/or open carry of arms do not believe in the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. They consider the prospect of any state passing an open carry law as a misdirected conservative ideology and a dangerous aberration.

First, it is absolutely not an aberration; it is the norm. For example, Oklahoma is one of seven states that does not have one of two types of open carry laws. Thirteen states have an open carry law requiring a permit, eleven do not require a permit. Together, forty-three states have open carry laws. Texas, Arkansas and South Carolina have bills before their legislatures to legalize open carry.

Second, the open carry movement is broad, encompassing liberal states like Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maryland, California and Connecticut. Many liberals cherish the right preserved in the United States Constitution and will argue for and defend such a right.

Third, open carry is not dangerous; on the contrary, it aids in keeping the peace. Many criminals would have escaped arrest if not for citizen arrest or action. Arms defend and protect the innocent.

A 2006 FBI study “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers” by Anthony Pinizzotto revealed that criminals carefully conceal their firearms, and they eschew the use of holsters.

“In lay member’s terms,” Pinizzo writes, “this report tells us that, statistically speaking, citizens who are openly wearing a properly holstered handgun and are willing to subject themselves to the intense public and law enforcement scrutiny that open carry brings with it are not criminals.”

The primary reason I am authoring the open carry bill is to buttress and codify the right engraved in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. It proclaims, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The secondary reason to author such a bill is to buttress and codify the right to bear arms expressed in Oklahoma’s State Constitution which declares, “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in the aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.”

My bill reads, “A person shall be permitted to carry…pursuant to the following conditions: When carried in a holster that is wholly or partially visible or in a scabbard or case designed for carrying firearms that is wholly or partially visible and the person is eighteen (18) years of age or older.”

No law allows felons or those with a history of involuntary commitment to mental institutions to have arms. A federal law prohibits arms within a thousand feet of schools, Kindergarten through the 12th grade.

I chose not to require an expensive permitting process before one can carry. That would have been discriminating to those who cannot afford such a expense; and the right to own and bear arms must not be a luxury; it is a right.

Founding Father and the First President of the United States of America, George Washington wrote, “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”

Our mature government is not a threat to my liberty; arming myself is not in motivation to protect me from this Republic. However, the future of our nation is not known.

If any future government, legitimate or otherwise, or any person, sane or ill, attempts to destroy my liberty, destroy my life, my family, will feel the penetrating hot metal from an instrument my country gave me the right to keep and bear.

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About Wesselhoft, Paul

Retired U.S. Army (Airborne Ranger) Chaplain; State Representative, Oklahoma House of Representatives; Representative, Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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