Permitless carry remains prohibited at OU

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

OU interim president Joseph Harroz Jr. speaks Wednesday during the OU board of regents meeting at the the National Weather Service.

Students hoping to partake in the permitless carry laws Nov. 1 won't be able to do so on the University of Oklahoma.

The OU Board of Regents unanimously passed updated language for the school's firearms policy Wednesday morning. The policy itself didn't change much, but the language provides a clearer understanding, board members said.

Current Oklahoma law requires a permit for concealed and open carry handguns. Legislation passed this year will allow Oklahomans 21 years old and older to carry firearms without a permit starting Nov. 1. The age for permitless cary for anyone serving in the military is 18 and older. Federal background checks are still required by law to purchase a firearm, and those with felonies, domestic violence convictions and mental illness are prohibited from carrying a firearm.

Higher education institutions are able to set their own policies with firearms on campuses, which is what OU did. The list of prohibited items on college and university campuses was expanded in the new law to include weapons such as machetes and brass knuckles, which Regents added to the policy.

Anil Gollahalli, OU legal counsel, said because of the discussions surrounding permitless carry, they decided now was a good time to update the terminology in the university's firearms policy to provide clarity on the approved processes and prohibitions.

"The firearms policy revision, it's important to note, does not substantively change any aspects of Oklahoma's policies on firearms," Gollahalli said. "There was a bit of a robust debate in the state over the last year and legislature did pass what is known as constitutional carry, and universities remained exempted from those provisions."

The policy still states that firearms and munitions of all types, as well as other weapons identified in section 21, are prohibited on all property owned, leased or occupied by the Board of Regents at all times except as specifically authorized. However, the policy also includes specific circumstances and individuals who can possess firearms on campus such as sworn in law enforcement, active or reserve armed forces of the United States or Oklahoma National Guard, Reserve Officer's Training Corps participants, firearms approved before performances or games or used as a teaching aid and others.

Students had mixed opinions on the campus being a gun-free zone.

Ainsley Allret and Jose Carrillo, OU freshmen, both said they are for the school's policy because it makes campus a safer place. Carrillo also said he doesn't see why anyone should be allowed to carry a firearm without a permit.

Antwon Robinson, OU junior, said he thinks guns should be allowed on campus, adding people tend to be more cautious when they know someone is carrying a firearm.

"I don't mind it, as long as teachers don't pull a gun out of their desk if they get mad or anything like that," Robinson said. "I think it would be cool to have a gun on campus if you can just have it in your backpack, safety on of course. I think it could be cool."

Michael Walkup, OU senior, said the policy makes sense to him. In regards to feeling safer on campus because of the policy, he said it doesn't make much of a difference either way.

"I mean the people who are going with permitless carry aren't the kind that are going to be committing crimes," Walkup said. "So, either way it doesn't make a whole lot of difference."

Don Spencer, president for the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, said these changes to the university's policy make weapons control even stronger on campus because it expands the prohibited weapons list. He said the university shouldn't turn refuse people who ask to carry their handgun concealed on campus, because it can be carried at so many other places.

"Our objective at OK2A is to reduce and remove as many gun-free zones as possible, because that's where so many of the terrible things take place," Spencer said.

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