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Tim Harper walks through the Gathering Place after a Second Amendment rally across the street from the park on Oct. 13. Harper, who was ejected from the park on opening day for openly carrying a gun, wore a shirt proclaiming that he was armed. He was not confronted by park officials after making several trips around the park. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

People would be able to carry concealed weapons but not carry them openly in locations such as Gathering Place and the Tulsa Zoo under a state bill that has been sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk.

House Bill 2010 is seen by some as a compromise between Second Amendment advocates and those wanting gun-free public places.

Under the bill, facilities under a public trust, such as Gathering Place and the Tulsa and Oklahoma City zoos, would be able to prohibit open carry at their facilities. However, people would be able to bring in concealed weapons.

“We consider this an advancement,” said Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, who helped write the legislation.

“I don’t consider this a compromise. I consider this saying you can carry a gun. … But I guess it depends on how you look at it.”

The bill went to Stitt’s desk on Thursday. If signed, it would become law Nov. 1.

Its authors were Reps. Garry Mize, R-Guthrie, and Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, and Sen. Kim David, R-Porter.

“We understand the fact that people do not want to go to the zoo seeing some guy carrying his grandpa’s rifle or shotgun over his shoulder while people are trying to look at the animals,” Spencer said.

He added, however, that his group was trying to “educate” law enforcement and public trust officials about the bill.

He said he hopes that in an instance when someone is carrying a concealed weapon that becomes briefly exposed — such as by their shirt being lifted — authorities would ask that person “to cover it up before they are asked to leave the park.”

A spokeswoman for Gathering Place said Monday afternoon that she was attempting to send a statement about the bill, but one had not been received by Monday evening.

During a Second Amendment protest at Gathering Place in October, the park issued a statement saying that “parks routinely prohibit firearms and the courts have routinely upheld such prohibitions.

“The community responded with their thoughts, including an emphatic response that firearms at the park are not conducive to creating this welcoming environment,” the statement said.

A call to a Tulsa Zoo spokeswoman about the bill was not immediately returned Monday.

Stitt in February signed a “constitutional carry” bill that will allow people to carry firearms in Oklahoma without a permit or training starting Nov. 1.

“I think the best defense for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Stitt said at the time.

House Bill 2010 is viewed as a trailer bill to the “constitutional carry” measure.

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Michael Dekker



Twitter: @michaeldekkerTW

Assistant Editor

Michael is an assistant news editor at the Tulsa World. He joined the World in November 2002, and has worked at newspapers in Oklahoma and Kansas since 1989. Phone: 918-581-8469

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