Do you have a prior conviction for a misdemeanor drug conviction that prevents your obtaining a handgun license in Oklahoma? Well, a change to Oklahoma’s gun law that allows those with drug misdemeanors on their criminal records to obtain a license to carry a gun, with some exceptions, went into effect Nov. 1st.
Previously, any drug misdemeanor crime conviction permanently prevented someone from obtaining their license to carry a weapon under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act (SDA). Jessica Brown, spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI), said that included drug possession or use, paraphernalia possession, and other minor drug offenses.
But as long as they have completed their sentence at least 10 years ago, the change in the law allows those with drug misdemeanors on their criminal histories to apply for a handgun license, which would permit both concealed and open-carry of guns. Those with other misdemeanors on their record will not be allowed to obtain a handgun license.
“What this really is targeting are those people that had this minor offense 20, 30, 40 years ago,” Brown said. “They are business owners, they are grandfathers, and they’ve had no other brushes with the law.” The logic behind this change is that the Second Amendment gives an individual the right to bear arms and to self-defense, and so long as you are not a convicted felon who has lost all those privileges, a non-violent misdemeanor should not be a bar to that constitutional right.
Marshall county sheriff, Ed Kent says it’s only a matter of time before marijuana related arrests are obsolete. “Possession is a misdemeanor not unlike running a stop sign or a traffic violation so I would not have a problem if you had a clean record for 10 years on a misdemeanor arrest if you would be able to qualify for a concealed weapons license,” Kent says.
However, the new law does not remove any other barriers for convicted criminals. Violent misdemeanors such as domestic abuse, assault, and even stalking will still prevent an application from being approved. Felons will still be barred from carrying firearms.
The SDA was put into effect in 2005. According to the OSBI, 6,622 applications have been denied since then, and 13 percent of those were for misdemeanor drug crimes.
Brown said it is difficult to tell how many potential gun owners will be affected by the change. She said it was difficult to tell how many people were rejected for only drug misdemeanors and how many will reapply now that the new law has gone into effect.
Whenever you go to purchase a gun from a dealer, you are required to complete a Form 4473 which does not ask about misdemeanor drug convictions. While you may have been able to buy a gun with such a conviction, you could not carry it under Oklahoma law, that is, until now.
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