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Police and Business Owners Adjust to New Open Carry Law

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DUNCAN, Okla_Oklahoma's new Open Carry Law kicked in on Thursday, and local law enforcement and business owners are taking precautions to keep their customers, employees and officers safe.

Sergeant Steve Biffle of the Duncan Police Department has been an officer for 19 years, but he said on Thursday he felt different.

"This morning when I was putting on my uniform. I thought, Ok today's the first day. how am I gonna react if I make my first traffic stop and the guy gets out of the car, or the woman, and they got a pistol strapped on," explained Biffle.

But Biffle also said that's where his training and those 19 years of experience should have him prepared.

Biffle said, "In our minds, on every traffic stop, people are armed. Maybe some people would scoff at that, but you've got to think like that."

Business owner Rick Minter has carried a concealed handgun for three years. He doesn't plan on making any changes to his antique shop yet, but he will be on alert.

"It's just gotta be something else you gotta be aware of. And that means I have to be ready to respond if something were to happen," said Minter.

And as far as knowing the kind of effect this will have on crime in the city, Biffle says, "Only time will tell on that. I mean, am I more apt to rob you or steal your purse if you're packing a pistol? No, I'm gonna go to somebody else that's gonna be less of a threat."

Officers are trained to draw their weapon if in immediate danger of great bodily harm and/or death. Biffle said just because you're dealing with a person with a gun, doesn't mean the officer is in danger, but he does want his guys to be careful.

"No matter what, officer safety comes first. We'll handle the complaints afterwards, but use common sense. This is the law and we as a majority passed it and we will abide by it. But officer safety. You go home at night. Everybody on my shift goes home, " Biffle explained.

Business owners do have the right to keep firearms out of their stores. They can do so by either telling their customers or by placing a sign in their window. Several local shop owners say they'll wait to see if they think that's necessary before making any immediate changes.

While Duncan Police haven't made any formal changes to their operation, Sergeant Biffle said they aren't ruling that out, "Any time things evolve in our line of work we have to adapt and maybe tweak our training a little bit or maybe even completely change it. That's been that way for years."

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