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Oklahoma legislators have sent Governor Brad Henry a bill that would make the state the 44 th to allow residents with concealed-weapons permits to carry their firearms openly in public. But the Democratic governor hasn't decided whether he will sign or veto the measure, which comes after open-carry supporters in California staged high-profile protests by carrying guns into Starbucks stores.
Henry is getting a lot of advice as he considers the legislation. Nearly 12,000 people have signed an online petition urging him to sign the bill, but Oklahoma law enforcers are bending the governor's ear, too, telling him that it would make their lives more difficult. He acknowledges he's listening to them.
"I share some of the concerns that have been expressed to me by law enforcement that the open carry makes their job more dangerous," Henry said, according to the Tulsa World . "It makes it more difficult for them to distinguish between the bad guys and the good guys. So, I will take all that into consideration."
Open-carry supporters believe that allowing people to carry guns openly actually deters would-be criminals. "This legislation should actually reduce the chance of violence," state Representative Rex Duncan, the author of the bill, told the World . "A criminal is far less likely to attack once he sees a citizen is armed."
The open-carry movement has generated plenty of attention in recent months after gun owners in California — where it is legal to carry firearms openly, provided they are unloaded — showed up with their guns at Starbucks . The move reignited the long-standing debate over which limitations on gun use are reasonable and which are not.
For its part, Starbucks said it wanted to stay out of the open-carry debate, honoring the laws of the each individual state rather than setting a national policy for its stores. "The political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores," the popular chain said in a statement .