By Steve Olafson
OKLAHOMA CITY--Law abiding citizens of Oklahoma who want to publicly carry a pistol on their hip or in a shoulder holster may do so under a bill overwhelmingly approved on Wednesday by the state House of Representatives.
The bill, which passed 85 to 9, will now go to the Oklahoma state Senate, where Representative Steve Martin, the Republican who sponsored the measure, said he believes it will be approved and then signed into law by Republican Governor Mary Fallin.
Martin described his bill as "mild" compared with laws in seven states that he said allow firearms to be carried openly without a screening process by authorities.
Every state in the nation except Illinois has some form of "concealed" carry law allowing citizens to carry guns. Most require gun safety training to get a permit.
The proposed Oklahoma law requires citizens to undergo the same training and a background check that has been required to obtain a concealed weapon license for past 17 years, Martin said.
The bill requires firearms openly carried in public to be in a belt or shoulder holster, scabbard or case.
It prohibits openly carrying guns into government offices, schools, bars, professional sporting arenas and private businesses that choose to prohibit firearms.
A similar bill was passed in 2010 but it was vetoed by then-Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, a Democrat.
The new bill includes an additional provision that allows police officers to ask anyone openly carrying a firearm to produce a permit.
(Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Beech)
Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.