On June 13, a man in a tactical vest was openly carrying a semi-automatic rifle and holstered pistol in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Not surprisingly, people were pretty freaked out.
Employees at the Broken Arrow Justice Center ― a government building that houses the local court and police offices ― locked their doors, and someone called 911. More people called 911 when he approached a Target.
But the police couldn’t really do anything about this guy. Officers determined that his actions were completely fine based on Oklahoma’s constitutional carry law, which allows people ages 21 and over to carry firearms in public without a permit or training.
And it’s a preview of what’s to come after the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun control law on Thursday, setting the stage for more restrictions on firearms to fall.
Police were finally able to arrest the man because, during the course of this chaos, they discovered that he had a recently issued, unrelated warrant. Officers then found out that he was carrying brass knuckles ― which actually are illegal under state and city law ― and a .50 caliber semi-automatic pistol concealed in a pouch, rather than a holster, which is also illegal.
But again, walking around with the semi-automatic rifle was completely fine.
Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton told Tulsa World that “nobody needs to be walking down the street with a rifle.”
“But I don’t make the laws; we just try to live by them and do a very difficult job in a world that’s got those people in it,” he added.
Thursday’s Supreme Court decision will likely put police ― and everyone else ― in more of these difficult and dangerous situations.
The court’s conservative six-member majority struck down New York’s law requiring people to get licenses in order to take guns outside of their homes. The state had required people to show that they needed a weapon for self-defense.
“The exercise of other constitutional rights does not require individuals to demonstrate to government officers some special need,“ Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the lead opinion. “The Second Amendment right to carry arms in public for self-defense is no different.”
The decision, which greatly expands the reading of the Second Amendment, has far-reaching implications that could make it much harder for states and localities to issue gun restrictions.
In other words, expect more situations like what happened in Oklahoma.