By Steve Olafson
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A bill to allow Oklahomans with a concealed-carry permit to openly carry their handguns is headed to the governor, who is expected to sign the legislation that passed the state Senate on Thursday.
The bill, approved by a 33-10 vote, would allow those with a concealed-carry handgun permit to openly carry their firearms in holsters from November 1. Those without such permits could obtain a gun permit and openly carry a firearm if they meet legal criteria, pass a background check and undergo firearms training.
Republican Governor Mary Fallin, a member of the National Rifle Association, has said she would support a responsible open-carry bill. She has five days to sign or veto the legislation, which affects about 125,000 people in the state.
Oklahoma has been one of six states in the country to prohibit the open-carry of firearms, along with Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York and California (handguns only), according to the Brady Campaign, the gun control advocacy group in Washington, D.C.
Brian Malte, director of legislation for the Brady Campaign, said allowing Oklahoma residents to openly carry firearms would be threatening to fellow citizens.
"More loaded guns in public is not the answer to safer communities," he said.
Some 44 states allow some form of open-carry firearms, with only 11 requiring permits to do so, according to the Brady Campaign.
Tim Gillespie, director of OK2A, an Oklahoma City-based Second Amendment advocacy group, said allowing the open-carry of firearms would lead to a decline in the crime rate, based on statistics from other states.
"We believe it will make everyone safer," he said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)