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July 23, 2013

Interim study called on self-defense law

NORMAN — The various “stand uour ground” laws that have been passed throughout the country are getting new attention this month. Oklahoma’s seven-year-old law is likely to be reviewed along with the newer “open carry” statute at a legislative study session requested by a state representative.

Mike Shelton, an Oklahoma City Democrat, wants the state to review the laws. Some lawmakers in other states are looking at repealing their laws, but Shelton said he’s going into the study with an open mind.

He told Associated Press Capitol reporter Tim Talley that he wants both sides to sit down and have a conversation.

“If a piece of legislation comes out of that interim study, it will be thoughtful. We need to know where that line is,” Shelton said.

That conversation may be short-lived. Oklahoma and 30 other states passed similar laws clarifying self-defense rights and expanded the right to protect yourself against attacks in other places. It had overwhelming support in Oklahoma then. That doesn’t seem to have changed any. If anything, amendments have made it stronger.

The laws have been the subject of much public debate following the July 13 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of an unarmed high school student in Florida.

Oklahoma’s “open carry” law went into effect in 2012 and law enforcement officials report few, if any, problems. The only challenge, police say, is keeping up with the growing number of permit applications.

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