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Gun owners split on open carry without license, training

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill that would allow anyone over age 21 to openly carry a firearm -- without a license or training -- has some gun owners concerned for their safety.

"When you don't have the regulations where people go in and learn to properly use the weapon, you kind of run the risk of people just being out there not knowing what to do to handle that weapon," said Jeremy Clifton, who spoke to NewsChannel 4 as he shopped at H&H Shooting Sports. "They could shoot somebody when it's not really called for."

House Bill 3098 would make Oklahoma the eighth state to legalize what's known as "Constitutional Carry." The idea is that carrying a firearm is a Constitutional right, not contingent on prerequisites or government permission.

The bill does not change the requirements for concealed carry and only applies to those who are legally purchase firearms. Background checks would still be required to purchase the weapons.

“I don’t want anyone who can legally own a weapon, who can legally purchase a weapon to have to ask the government permission to carry that weapon off their property, in the open,” Coody told NewsChannel 4 Thursday, after the bill passed the house on a 73-15 vote.

But the idea raises red flags among some gun owners, who are worried about the consequences.

"I don't think that would be a good idea at all if they haven't gone through training," said Wougim Heapofbirds. "I just don't think that someone who hasn't been trained with a handgun, which is the hardest gun to be able to learn how to shoot should be able to carry it."

Jaughn Morris is a manager at H&H Shooting Sports who open carries every day.

He says he can see both sides of the coin.

"We're all for people arming themselves so they're not becoming victims," he said. "But training I believe is a very strong thing. Everybody needs the training and that's what we're all for."

It's important to expand the number of gun owners, Morris said, because fewer people will become victims.

Criminals and irresponsible people, he adds, will always be able to get their hands on firearms in one way or another.

He doesn't see a lack of training as necessarily more dangerous.

"If you don't have the training and you don't know when to, I think you'll be more reluctant to pull out your firearm," he said. "Do I think it's going to cause more irresponsible gun owners? No. "

But he strongly advocates for as much training as possible, even for the people who have the basics down.

"You need to keep training," he said. "Keep working on more skill sets so that you can be a more effective protector of your family and your property."