Article II, § 26 of the Oklahoma Constitution provides: “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in 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.”
In a 1998 case, State ex rel. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation v. Warren, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma held that “there is no absolute common-law or constitutional right to carry loaded weapons at all times and in all circumstances.”1 The court rejected various challenges to Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1290.11(A), which prohibits an individual arrested for a felony from obtaining a concealed handgun license. The court concluded that “[a]n individual’s right to keep and bear arms under a State Constitution…remains subject to reasonable regulation under the State’s police power.”2 In March 2004, the Oklahoma legislature amended the state’s Self-Defense Act to prohibit any “person, property owner, tenant, employer, or business entity [from establishing]…any policy or rule that has the effect of prohibiting any person, except a convicted felon, from transporting and storing firearms in a locked vehicle on any property set aside for any vehicle.”3
In the 1908 case Ex Parte Thomas, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma rejected an article II, § 26 challenge to a state law prohibiting the carrying of a concealed pistol.4 The court found that while the right to “bear arms” is a general right to be exercised by the people for their common defense, a pistol is not within “the character of arms in contemplation of the constitutional convention and of the people of the state” when they declared a right to “keep and bear arms,” and “bear arms” does not refer to “wearing them about the person as part of the dress.”5 The court stated that “the arms defendant had a right to bear, and which right could never be prohibited him, relates [sic] solely to such arms as are recognized in civilized warfare and not those used by the ruffian, brawler, or the assassin.”6
Similarly, in the 1929 case, Pierce v. State, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma rejected an article II, § 26 challenge to a law prohibiting the carrying of a concealed revolver.7 With respect to weapons not “recognized in civilized warfare,” the court stated that the Legislature has the power to not only prohibit their carrying “concealed or unconcealed,” but also “the power to even prohibit the ownership or possession of such arms.”8
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- 975 P.2d 900, 902 (Okla. 1998).
- Id. at 902-03. See also Bastible v. Weyerhaeuser, 437 F.3d 999 (10th Cir. 2006) (citing Warren and rejecting an article II, § 26 challenge to former Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1290.22, which at that time preserved the right of an employer to prohibit weapons on its property, including in a car within a parking lot).
- Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1290.22(B).
- 97 P. 260 (1908).
- Id. at 262-264.
- Id. at 265.
- 275 P. 393 (Okla. Crim. App. 1929).
- Id. at 395; see also Beard v. State, 122 P. 941 (Okla. Crim. App. 1912) (rejecting an article II, § 26 challenge to a law prohibiting carrying a concealed pistol); Mathews v. State, 244 P. 56 (Okla. Crim. App. 1926) (rejecting an article II, § 26 challenge to a law prohibiting carrying a concealed revolver).