[Updated on Tuesday, May 9: SB 40 passed the state Senate on May 8 by a vote of 35-8 and is now awaiting action from the governor. You can call the governor’s office at (405) 521-2342 to let her know where you stand.]
The so-called “Point, Don’t Shoot” bill has landed on Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s desk. Senate Bill 40 would change current gun laws in Oklahoma to allow people to point firearms at others to defend themselves and deescalate a life-or-death situation, without being charged with a crime.
Under current law, the state can file felony charges against an individual for brandishing a weapon at someone else, even if it is done in self-defense.
“When you get your [concealed-carry] license, the instructor tells you that you don’t bring your gun out, you don’t show your gun, you don’t intimidate somebody with your gun,” Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, told News OK. “If you bring it out, you have to shoot.”
The bill’s language spells out when an individual can or should draw a firearm:
“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
SB 40 further specifies that, in specific cases, an individual should have the right to brandish, yet not discharge, their firearm: “A person pointing a weapon at a perpetrator in self-defense or in order to thwart, stop or deter a forcible felony or attempted forcible felony shall not be deemed guilty of committing a criminal act.”
“Defensive force” is also specified as the chief measure for what would be considered legal brandishing of a firearm under SB 40. This could include not only instances of self-defense, but could also include situations where the showing of a firearm could stop a criminal act.
More importantly the provisions in SB 40 clarify that the legal exemption does not apply to those who brandish a firearm engaged in illegal activity or committing a crime.
SB 40 passed through the Oklahoma House of Representatives in April by an 82-8 vote.
Proponents of the bill have argued that it could deescalate a bad situation.
Eric Fuson, general manager at 2A Shooting Center in Tulsa, told KTUL TV, “If you present a weapon when you feel like your life is in danger to deescalate the situation, then you should feel like you have the legal right in doing that.” — by Peter Suciu, U.S. & Texas Law Shield blog contributor