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October 30, 2012

Good turnout at forum

NORMAN — Open carry law begins Thursday

The City Council Chambers filled up Monday night for the open carry forum hosted by the Norman Police Department.

The purpose of the forum was to inform individuals about the new law that goes into effect Thursday and answer residents’ questions.

Officer John Barbour presented information to attendees before a question-and-answer session began. Barbour talked about the police department’s training plan and how dispatch and police officers will respond to calls about the new law.

Many officers have already gone through training regarding the new law and those who haven’t soon will, he said. In addition, the training will be added to future academy curriculum.

Dispatch, which handles a majority of the calls going into the police department, are being trained to ask a series of questions to determine whether the situation requires officers’ immediate attention. Dispatchers also will inform callers about the new law if time allows.

Police officers will respond based on the information that is provided to them by dispatch. Officers will not ask people for their open carry licenses unless there is suspicious activity, Barbour said.

He said they do not anticipate any wide-spread problems with the new law.

“It is not a new concept,” Barbour said, regarding the other 24 states with similar laws. “I don’t think it will change a lot of what we do now.”

The open carry law is an amended version of the Self Defense Act, except the “concealed carry” part is taken out. Instead of a permit, a license is required, Barbour said.

The law prohibits carrying guns at public meetings, jails, schools, sporting events, race tracks and bars. Restaurants where the primary source of income is food, and not alcohol, are OK unless signs banning guns are posted. If someone enters a business where a “no weapons” sign is posted, they can be refused service and asked to leave.

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