Youths caught with guns at Tulsa Fair, Sheriff's office warns public not to bring more
Editor's note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect deputies' and fair staff's security roles.
Guns seized from youth at the Tulsa State Fair are down this year, but the message from the sheriff’s office remains the same: don’t bring guns to the fairgrounds.
Capt. Mike Moore, commander of the State Fair for the sheriff's office, said his deputies had seized three guns from juveniles between the start of the fair on Thursday through Monday afternoon. Sheriff's investigators are working to determine further details about the possessions.
Moore said most of the youth caught with guns tell him they're carrying for protection, but he doubts that’s the true reason.
“They can’t articulate to me because it’s probably not the truth. It’s probably them wanting to be cool or show off to their friends, or it’s for any number of reasons. But I doubt it’s for actual protection, unless it’s from other nefarious groups that they may not be affiliated with," he said.
Oklahoma County authorities determined a shooting between teenagers at the Oklahoma State Fair last month to be gang-related. Moore said his investigators haven’t been able to make that kind of determination yet when it comes to the youth caught carrying at the Tulsa fairgrounds.
While sheriff's deputies provide law enforcement services inside the fairgrounds, fair staff are in charge of security at the gates, said sheriff's spokesperson Casey Roebuck.
Roebuck said fair staff do random bag checks. The fair website says all visitors "are subject to search."
Oklahoma law currently prohibits anyone from carrying guns on state fairgrounds. After the shooting on the Oklahoma County fairgrounds, state Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland) proposed allowing open carry at the Oklahoma State Fair.
When asked about Olsen's proposal, sheriff's spokesperson Casey Roebuck said only Sheriff Vic Regalado can speak on political issues. Roebuck said Tuesday that Regalado will be out of town for the rest of the week when asked for a follow-up.
Until the law is changed, visitors still can’t carry at the fair — and Moore expects them to comply.
"If you’re carrying concealed and say, 'I have a concealed carry license,' that’s fine — you can’t have it here. You have open carry? Again, you can’t have it here," Moore said. "So that’s what we’re here to do — provide safety and security for the people at the fair.
“I just want everyone to come out and have a good time. Leave the guns at home. You know, it’s state law. There’s really no reason to have them out here, and let us provide the safety and security at the fair and come out and have a good time.”