The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation received a record number of first-time handgun license applications in January, shattering the old record set in 1996.
The 4,970 initial applications accepted by OSBI last month outnumbered the previous record by more than 1,000. The old record was set in February 1996, the second month after the enactment of the Self Defense Act.
Including renewals, the state agency received 6,107 handgun license applications in January.
The number of first-time applications received last month outpaced January 2012 by more than 3,000.
A news release from the OSBI states that officials won't speculate why the number spiked in January.
“The OSBI will not offer a reason for the increase,” the release states. “Due to the length of the entire process of getting one's gun license, it is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint a relationship between a public event and someone applying for a license, e.g. Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (and the recent) presidential election.”
The release did state that the increased interest in handgun licenses has strained the bureau's already stretched-thin resources.
“The OSBI has hired more full-time and part-time workers for the Self Defense Unit,” the release states. “The bureau is also using employees in other divisions of OSBI to help.”
Insiders, gun owners speculate
While OSBI officials are hesitant to speak on the recent increase in the number of people seeking their handgun licenses, those who work in the gun-selling industry and some gun owners believe it has something to do with uncertainty in Washington, D.C., and the perception that President Barack Obama wants to ban certain kinds of weapons and take away certain gun rights.
Gun owners and retailers interviewed during the record-setting month of January said there is definitely a connection between the president and the rise in Oklahoma handgun licenses, although other factors are certainly affecting the growth.