Firearms in Churches – 2018 Oklahoma Laws #31

This new law strengthens the right to use a firearm in self defense. In this legislation, the Legislature expressly recognized the right to expect absolute safety within a place of worship. Places of worship may now establish policies regarding the possession of weapons on their property. HB 2632 amended 21 O.S. § 1289.25. It went into effect on November 1, 2018.  

 

When Deadly Force is Authorized Against an Intruder in Oklahoma

charged with firearm crime in oklahomaReferences to a “place of worship” were added to the statute. A person, regardless of official capacity or lack of official capacity, within a place of worship or a person, an owner, manager, or employee of a business is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself, herself, or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

  1. The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, place of business, or place of worship, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the will of that person from the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, place of business. or place of worship.
  2. The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred; or
  3. The person who uses defensive force knew or had a reasonable belief that the person against whom the defensive force was used entered or was attempting to enter into a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, place of business, or place of worship for the purpose of committing a forcible felony, and that the defensive force was necessary to prevent the commission of the forcible felony.

A “forcible felony” is any felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any person.  

 

When Deadly Force is Not Authorized Against an Intruder in Oklahoma

The presumption above doesn’t apply if:

  1. The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not a protective order from domestic violence in effect or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person;
  2. The person or persons sought to be removed are children or grandchildren, or are otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
  3. The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, place of business, or place of worship to further an unlawful activity.

 

Place of Worship in Oklahoma

The definition of a “place of worship” was added to the statute. It means any permanent building, structure, facility, or office space owned, leased, rented, or borrowed, on a full-time or temporary basis, when used for worship services, activities, and business of the congregation. This includes but is not limited to, churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques.

Sources: HB 2632 and 21 O.S. §§ 1289.25 & 733

Charged with a crime in Oklahoma? Call Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer Frank Urbanic in OKC at 405-633-3420.

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