The start of the school year is right around the corner, but this year may look a lot different than it did in the past. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some public-school districts are offering in-person traditional instruction with physical distancing, however, virtual instruction and a hybrid that combines in-person instruction and virtual online instruction are the norm for most public schools. Parents may choose the best option for their student. Regardless of the method of instruction, it is important that all Oklahoma residents have a clear understanding of Oklahoma’s gun laws when it comes to schools and school property.
Carry Laws Remain Unchanged…
The COVID- 19 pandemic has not changed the Self-Defense Act (“SDA”). Every law-abiding gun owner should be aware of Okla. Stat. tit. 21 §§ 1272 and 1277, as this statute makes public, private, elementary, or public or private secondary schools, universities, colleges, and technology centers prohibited areas for the carry of firearms. Section 1277 creates a gun-free zone on school, university, college, and technology center premises.
Under Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1277 it is illegal to carry a handgun on a university or school premises whether or not one has a concealed carry permit or is constitutionally carrying.
Oklahoma also has carry laws for dual-purpose facilities such as: churches, after-school programs, daycares, and education centers. Churches, according to Oklahoma law, are private businesses and are not automatically gun-free zones. The owners must post signs prohibiting the carry of guns or other weapons. After posting “no gun” signs, the church’s right to ban or limit weapons would be covered by Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1290.22.
If an after-school program or daycare is held on a school premises, this would still be considered a “gun-free zone” and firearms would be prohibited, even though school is not in session. However, if an after-school program or daycare is held at a privately owned location, the possession of firearms at that location would only be prohibited if the owner posted signs.
Does Online Learning Affect Your Ability to Carry?
Do the new learning modes effect where you can and cannot carry a firearm? This new model leads to some interesting questions:
Can firearms be carried on school grounds while the school is not in operation?
No, Oklahoma law prohibits firearms carry on school grounds whether open or closed.
What about carrying in a room used as a Zoom classroom (online classroom)?
If a teacher is teaching online from home, or a student is learning online in their home, they are participating in a school sponsored activity. However, the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act does not prohibit the carry of firearms at school sponsored activities when the school-sponsored event is not on “school property.” If the room was located in someone’s private home, then no, the private home would not become a gun-free zone. If the room was rented or owned by the school, then that room would be a gun-free zone.
If you have any questions about carrying a firearm during the COVID-19 pandemic on school property or anywhere else in the state, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.