By Megan Sando
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Statewide applications for handgun licenses are on the rise compared to last year, according to data from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
In Payne County, there are more applications through the first six months of 2013 than for all of 2012.
The Payne County Sheriff’s Department confirmed there have been 850 applications since Jan. 1, compared to 819 for all of 2012.
OSBI Media Spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Thursday that 26,082 licenses have been received and approved since Jan. 1.
The number of licenses received this year totals 37,000, where only 40,000 licenses were approved for all of last year.
“Due to the fact that we don’t ask why they apply on the application, we don’t have an opinion about the increase,” Brown said. “Though there are many opinions out there, it’s not the government’s business to know why someone applies.”
In 2012, it became legal in Oklahoma for owners to have open carry. Prior to that, permits were issued for concealed carry only. Licenses are denied to people who are felons or those being treated for mental health problems.
On any given day, the sheriff’s department may receive 15 to 20 applicants per day. Many applicants, they said, are equally male and female, with more female applicants than in the past. Sheriff R.B. Hauf said it is standard for people to go online, fill out the application and attend a Self-Defense Act gun safety course. Applicants bring two photos, I.D. and fees to the sheriff’s department and then are fingerprinted. As a first-time applicant, the total cost can range from $200 to $285, with the safety class, fingerprint and background check included.
“Probably the time we noticed a big increase was when Obama took office, for fear that their gun rights would be taken away,” Hauf said.
In the last two years, annual applications for handgun licenses will be expected to triple if this year’s trend continues.