Issuance of driver's licenses isn't the only permitting function on which Oklahoma is falling behind. The state also faces a backlog in processing concealed-carry gun permits.
Driver's exams are hard to get, with people lining up in the middle of the night for a chance at a driving test. Unlike with the gun permits, the number of potential drivers is relatively simple to predict, based on the population of youths turning 16. But no one knows how many will apply for a concealed-carry license.
So many Oklahomans are applying now that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is having trouble doing the requisite background checks. The number is growing in the wake of the Colorado shootings and the prospect of a second term for Barack Obama. Gun dealers are benefiting from the tragedy and noting the effect on sales from Obama's possible re-election. The perception is that a crackdown on gun rights is only a matter of time.
Another factor is a new state law allowing open carry of weapons if a gun owner has a concealed-carry permit. The state is supposed to issue or deny a concealed-carry permit within 60 days of an application. The average time now is 94 days, according to the Tulsa World.
Nearly 35,000 applications were processed in the fiscal year that ended June 30, up by almost 50 percent from the previous year. Applications nearly doubled in fiscal 2009, the latter half of which coincided with the first six months of the Obama presidency. The OSBI is on the tail end of a permitting process that begins with gun owners taking and passing an eight-hour course.
So getting a permit isn't faster than a speeding bullet, which may frustrate applicants but it shouldn't anger them. They should be the first to realize that with gun privileges, getting it right is more important than getting it quickly.