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Handgun licensees surpass 140,000 in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, there are more than 140,000 residents who are licensed to carry firearms on their person.
by Andrew Knittle Published: January 27, 2013

The crowd Wednesday night at the handgun license class at H&H Shooting Sports Complex was a curious mix.

A teacher. A delivery driver. A man who sells products made at an Oklahoma oil refinery.

One woman worked for a hospital. Another attendee described himself as a “risk manager.” There were couples, too, and a young man attending the class with his parents.

And then there was Dr. John Belardo, a well-known local eye surgeon.

“I recognize him from the billboards,” a fellow classmate said.

The 5:30 p.m. class, the second part of an eight-hour session required by state law, would focus on shooting and other hands-on training.

Oklahomans from all walks of life are rushing to get their handgun licenses these days. The rush, some say, is the result of a potent mix of factors, including a presidential election, mass shootings and renewed talk of tighter gun control laws.

In Okla homa, there are more than 140,000 residents who are licensed to carry firearms. Over the past four years, the number of licenses issued by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has exploded compared with previous years.

Meghan McCormick, spokeswoman for the Cleveland County sheriff's office, said comments made last week by President Barack Obama on the topic of guns lead to a record-setting day in Norman.

“The day the president announced his proposed changes, we had a record number of people, around 60 come in that day to submit their applications,” McCormick said, adding that a long line formed during the two hours the sheriff's office accepted applications that day.

Residents wanting to get a handgun license in Oklahoma must first complete a “firearms safety and familiarization” course like the 30 or so people did Wednesday night at H&H Shooting Sports Complex.

After that, OSBI protocol instructs them to go to their local sheriff's office to complete the application process.

McCormick said Obama's comments about possible new gun control laws, made Jan. 16, are the latest thing to scare gun owners.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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