Oklahoma has become the 15th U.S. state to allow licensed gun owners to openly carry firearms. Twenty-nine other states have some type of so-called open-carry law, which permits anyone not prohibited from owning a weapon to carry a holstered gun in plain sight.
A Gallup survey found 47 percent of American adults say they had a gun in their home or on their property. The Department of Justice estimates there were 310 million firearms in the country in 2009.
The co-founder of the support group Open Carry
, John Pierce, says having responsible people display their weapons can help improve public attitudes about gun owners.
"Open carry forces the people that you meet as you go about your daily business responsibly and safely, and legally to see that their friends, their neighbors, their loved ones, the people in their community are exercising their rights responsibly," he said.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Public Information officer Shannon Clark says the state’s concealed-carry law has worked well and he does not expect any great changes now that gun owners can display their weapons.
"It may be a little different for me to walk into a grocery store or Walmart and see someone standing there with a gun on their hip, but I think that is just a shift we will have to make as a community and I think we are well informed about what to expect, so I do not think the transition will be that difficult," said Clark.
Clark notes that there is no conclusive evidence that open carry laws affect the crime rate.