The number of Oklahomans applying for a handgun license is on track to dip slightly after two record-breaking years of applications, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
From Jan. 1 to June 30, nearly 22,400 people applied for a license to carry a firearm, concealed or unconcealed. In the same amount of time last year, nearly 37,000 applications were received.
For all of 2013, 53,385 applications were received and 60,628 applications were approved. The discrepancy is because several applications OSBI received in December 2012 did not get approved until 2013.
Nearly 46,500 applications were received in 2012.
“It kind of runs in cycles. Sometimes they’re up, sometimes they’re down. I think a lot of people have received those permits, and so now we will see a lot people eventually needing to renew those,” OSBI spokesman Gary Perkinson said.
However, more applications may start pouring in before a new law goes into effect Nov. 1.
House Bill 2874 modifies the state Self-Defense Act so handgun safety and training certificates will be valid for only three years from their issue dates.
Before, certificates did not expire.
Anyone who completed a state-certified training course more than three years ago from Nov. 1 and who has not submitted their application will have to retake the training course for a new certificate for their firearm license application.
“When it (House Bill 2874) was first publicized that was going to take effect on Nov. 1, there was an uptick in renewals and initial applications of that, and people are just trying to get it done,” Perkinson said.
This law does not affect those who already are licensed to carry a firearm, unless they let their license expire.
H&H Shooting Sports, 400 S Vermont Ave., offers state-mandated gun safety courses, and owner Miles Hall said it is not uncommon for people to put off applying for a handgun license.
“You get some people who take a class, and they think ‘Oh, all right, I will turn in the paperwork,’ and a week turns into a month, which turns into a year,” Hall said.
“It would be kind of like when we took our driver’s test and got approval, but then you don’t go get your license.”
Having a three-year expiration date for certifications is not a new idea. Hall said the idea was kicked around when lawmakers were forming the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act.
“Believe it or not, it was originally talked about back in 1994 when the law came together. Somewhere along the way, that got dropped, so all they’re really doing is bringing back something that got started a long time ago,” Hall said.
“In fact, for the first four or five years, that’s what we told everybody, ‘It’s only good for three years, so go get this done.’ Then we found out it was not part of the deal and wondered when they took it out.”
So far, Hall said he has not seen anyone upset about the new law.