Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin recently signed into law SB 1733, a bill designed to allow licensed gun owners to “open carry” their weapons in the state. With that action Oklahoma becomes the 25th state to allow its citizens to carry weapons openly.

Personally I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and as a “New Jersey born Colorado native”, have no issue with such a law. I actually think that crime tends to go down when such laws are passed, despite the objections of those who oppose them.

It does, however, pose certain challenges for various entities with the state. The most notable of those would be wild turkeys, as they were singled out early in the legislative process as notable security threats making this gun law necessary. At least that is the opinion of State Senator Ralph Shortey. During committee discussions, Shortey opposed a proposal that gun owners should pay fees for a license related with the right to carry a weapon. He told the committee, “I was in oil and gas. 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.” He continued by saying, “I wish that I had a gun with me, 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.”

Compelling testimony to be sure. I am certain that Senator Shortey had the rapt attention of all in the room. Beyond the fact that just having the name “Shortey” would probably compel me to carry a gun, I can see the man's point. It would be quite scary having that vicious, wild beast bearing down on you, its gobble at full and threatening throttle. Plus, it would be downright humiliating to admit to your oil and gas buddy's – not a genteel group, generally – that a turkey kicked your ass. Better to get a gun and shoot the damn thing. Besides, shooting it probably would look manlier than standing there, shrieking like a little girl, beating a bird with a club. To be fair we don't know if he actually shrieked like a little girl, but we do know “the fear that a turkey can invoke in a person”.

There were no details available on whether the club was concealed or carried openly.

The other group that should be prepared for this law would be the employers in the state. An interview with Oklahoma attorney Jonathon Rector did a competent job of outlining the challenges they face. Rector notes that “nothing in Oklahoma’s new law prohibits a private business owner or employer from establishing and enforcing any policy that prohibits individuals from carrying handguns onto the premises”. He recommends that employers who may wish to adopt a handgun policy now do so. Additionally he suggests that any new policy geared toward restricting handguns be fully implemented and covered within all training and orientation materials.

Those are sound points, and employers would be wise, in my opinion, to establish clear policies both to protect employees and limit their potential liability.

Rector did note that, even though the new law does not stop them from banning weapons in the workplace, “they may not adopt and enforce policies that prohibit employees from keeping a firearm locked in their car in the parking lot.”

That is not good news for postal service supervisors. That cuts the warning down for those turkeys to just a few seconds.


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