Starting Nov. 1 a change to Oklahoma’s gun law will allow those with drug misdemeanors on their criminal records to carry a concealed weapon, with some exceptions.
Right now under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act (SDA) any drug misdemeanor crime conviction prevents someone from obtaining their license to carry a concealed weapon.
According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s (OSBI) spokesperson Jessica Brown, that includes drug possession, paraphernalia possession, and other minor drug offenses.
But the change in the law would allow those with misdemeanors on their criminal histories to apply for a concealed carry license as long as they completed their sentence at least 10 years ago.
“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 change does not remove any other barriers for convicted criminals however. Brown said violent misdemeanors such as domestic abuse, assault, even stalking will still prevent an application from being approved. No changes will be made to laws barring felons from carrying firearms.
The SDA was put into effect in 2005. According to OSBI, 6,622 applications have been denied since then and 13 percent of those were for misdemeanor drug crimes.
“The second amendment gives you the right to bear arms and defend your family. And if you're not a convicted felon who has lost all those privileges you should be able to have the right to defend yourself and your family,” Kevin Maxfield said.
Maxfield is the training director at Wilshire Gun in Oklahoma City. He helps hundreds of potential gun owners train and apply for their licenses. He added as long as it's legal he doesn't mind the change in the law.
“Yes, people make mistakes and I do understand that. And as long as it's not a violent felony or misdemeanor something like that, being able to apply could help some people.”
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 come November.