EDMOND — Police had discussions with a Choctaw man who on the afternoon of March 29 walked with a loaded CMMG 9 mm AR pistol at Hafer Park, said Jenny Wagnon, Edmond Police spokeswoman.
Police say Choctaw resident Timothy Harper carried a pistol similar in appearance to an AR-15 with a magazine of ammunition strapped on his back.
Police were dispatched to Hafer Park after a witness reported seeing Harper with a weapon. Police say they were unaware of Harper’s motives when they approached him. At that time Harper began recording the incident for YouTube, Wagnon said.
While at the park Harper told officers he is with the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, he has a license to carry, and he walks with his loaded weapon when auditing officers.
Wagnon said the meeting between police and Harper went well. The meeting included Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association.
“Basically we talked about the dangers for Tim Harper himself in conducting that type of audit,” Wagnon said.
Spencer agreed with Assistant Police Chief Tim Dorsey that this specific audit needs to stop, Wagnon said. Harper did not break the law by conducting the audit, Wagnon said. But for safety reasons, officers want to be alerted ahead of time if another audit happens.
“We felt very good after the meeting,” Wagnon said.
Harper said he had told police at the Hafer Park audit that he expects more people will be carrying their pistols in open public areas, including LibertyFest.
“We definitely want people to know that,” Wagnon said.
In February Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law House Bill 2597. The open carry bill amends the Oklahoma Self Defense Act, allowing Oklahomans older than the age of 21 to carry handguns without training or a permit beginning Nov. 1.
Military veterans and active duty older than 18 will also be able to carry firearms without a permit.
“This is just a really bad way to express your rights for the Second Amendment,” Wagnon said. “So what we’ve experienced — nationally we have all these Second Amendment rights people who have been sending us all kinds of hate mail and messages and stuff.
“And then locally we have all kinds of people who are supporting us and how we handled it.”
The YouTube video shows Harper and Edmond police officers communicating politely. Harper wrote under the video that Edmond Police did great in handling the incident.
The video shows Harper pointing out his license and identifying his weapon as a pistol when confronted by police.
“We got a call about a rifle. Obviously that’s not an open carry ability,” said Officer Branden Baxely.
Baxely confirmed the weapon was a pistol.
Harper tells police he wants to see if Edmond Police respects the Second Amendment and how they respond to someone carrying a pistol.
Baxley asked Harper if he understands how much the CMMG 9 mm AR pistol looks like an AR-15.
“I understand exactly what some people that don’t know it could look like from a distance,” Harper said. “But after Nov. 1, you’re going to get a lot of that.”
The weapon’s brace and grip make the weapon a pistol with a shortened barrel, Harper continued.
Baxley asked Harper why he carried the firearm in the park where children play baseball.
“Part of it’s an education deal since as you guys don’t know that’s a rifle. You’re having to check it out right now,” Harper said.
Harper said his group has demonstrated their Second Amendment rights in Tulsa and is making appearances in other cities.
The video shows police asking Harper to inform them when the audit group will conduct Second Amendment audits so officers will know ahead of time the nature of their dispatch.
“I understand like you’ve got a Second Amendment, but you’ve got to understand when we get a pistol at a park or a rifle call, we start running codes,” another officer said. “Because of now with you wanting to do a Second Amendment audit — you put all these other people at risk with us running to get here.”
The Hafer Park incident is unacceptable, said Randel Shadid, former Edmond mayor. Shadid described the state legislature as “a bunch of spineless amoebas who misinterpret gun rights.”
Shadid suggests the following Edmond ordinances be enacted:
• Carrying of any guns be prohibited in all public parks and at all public events that have the right to use city property i.e. parks, little league ball parks, arts festival, Heard on Hurd, etc.;
• Immediately lease all public park land in Edmond to the EPWA or EEDA public trusts. Then post signs at entry to all parks banning firearms period; and
• Establish a park public trust so as to divorce it from the Edmond Public Works Authority or Edmond Economic Development Authority.