The season for tornadoes has arrived, and if the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that you can never be too prepared for what Mother Nature has in store…
With that in mind, we want to make sure that all residents of the Sooner State are aware of the state website for emergency preparedness information, which can be found here.
In addition to staying safe, we want you to stay legal. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1321.4, The Oklahoma Riot Control and Prevention Act, authorizes the governor to use the following emergency powers, some of which are itemized in this video.
What The Law Says
During a state of emergency, the governor, by proclamation may, in an area limited to the emergency, prohibit activities the governor reasonably believes should be prohibited, like: establish a curfew; designate that a certain number of persons may not gather in public streets; prohibit the sale of gasoline kerosene fuel; prohibit the sale of food commodities; prohibit the sale or dispensing of alcoholic beverages; prohibit the sale, purchase, or dispensing of commodities or goods, as the Governor reasonably believes should be prohibited.
However, paragraph B. of the statute says:
“Notwithstanding this section or any other law of this state, neither the governor nor any official of a municipal or state entity shall prohibit or suspend the sale, ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, transfer and storage of firearms, ammunition and ammunition accessories during a declared state of emergency, that are otherwise legal under state law.”
The governor may suspend the sale of fuel, food commodities, and alcoholic beverages, but the governor cannot suspend the sale, ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, transfer, and storage of firearms, ammunition, and accessories during a declared emergency.
Oklahoma law for transporting firearms in a vehicle does not specify a procedure for transporting firearms during a natural disaster or emergency, such as a fire or tornado. The laws of transporting firearms in a vehicle during a non-emergency do not change during emergencies in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma law allows transportation of firearms in vehicles for self-defense and other legal purposes. Fleeing a natural disaster would be a legal purpose, however the firearms would have to be transported legally and according to law.
Can Children Carry?
The person transporting the firearms in a vehicle must be over the age of 18 to possess the firearm; thus children, under the age of 18, who are unsupervised by an adult, would be prohibited from loading rifles, shotguns, and pistols into the car and fleeing a tornado.
The children must be accompanied by their parents or an adult with permission of the parents if firearms are involved. Children are allowed by law to possess firearms when they are hunting or engaging in shooting sports.
Fleeing a tornado, or other emergency, would not be a legal justification for a non-qualified child to possess a firearm, load the firearm into the car, and take off without their parent.
The Law of Vehicle Transport
Long guns, if transported by qualifying adults for a legal purpose, must be transported chamber-empty. The long guns may have bullets in the magazine, but must be chamber empty. The long gun may be transported in the cabin of the vehicle in an exterior-locked compartment of the vehicle, or in the trunk. Handguns may be transported chamber-loaded, and stored anywhere inside of the automobile or trunk.
The handguns or long guns may be transported open or concealed. There are no state-specific laws regarding emergency situations; earthquakes, fires, floods, or tornadoes. The general laws for transporting firearms in a vehicle apply.
If you have questions about what to do in the event of a natural disaster and state of emergency, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.
ALERT: Make sure to check all state and local laws and reach out to your Independent Program Attorney as you prepare for emergency situations. Click here for the latest webinar discussion regarding travel restrictions during a pandemic with Sam Malone, featuring Independent Program Attorneys David Katz, James Reeves, Emily Taylor, and Richard Hayes.
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.