Loophole Allows Handgun License Without In-Person Training

Print More

Watch reporter Clifton Adcock take the handgun license quiz offered by Virginia.

A loophole in Oklahoma law allows individuals to obtain a valid handgun license without ever firing a practice shot or picking up a gun.

Scores of Oklahomans have avoided the state’s requirement to take live firearm training with a licensed instructor in order to obtain a license to carry a concealed or visible handgun. The applicants instead apply for a license in a state such as Virginia that requires the applicant only to take an online quiz and pass a background check, which Oklahoma also requires. Oklahoma recognizes licenses granted in other states.

The loophole has sparked online coupons advertising for obtaining a “non-resident handgun license.” The applicant for a Virginia license watches a short video, takes a 20-question, true-false and multiple choice quiz, and turns in background check information. Virginia officials say more than 150 Oklahomans have obtained a nonresident license from the state.

According to one site that offers the class, carryacademy.com, 99 percent of those who take the quiz pass it the first time.

H&H Shooting Sports

A patron at H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City practices at the complex’s gun range. The business also teaches handgun training classes for Oklahoma’s Self-Defense Act license, but a loophole in state law allows some to circumvent the state’s in-person firearms training requirements.

An Oklahoma legislator has introduced a bill that would close the loophole. House Bill 1391 by Rep. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, would require Oklahoma residents to have Oklahoma-issued handgun licenses and keeps the requirement that applicants demonstrate proficiency with a handgun under the supervision of a licensed firearm instructor before receiving their license.

However, the proposed law would allow the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to develop an online class for handgun license applicants.

Murdock said he introduced the bill because in many rural areas it can be difficult to attend handgun license classes. Only two – one in spring and one in autumn – are offered in his area, said Murdock, who is a handgun license holder.

Murdock said he is alarmed by the current law’s not requiring an applicant to fire a gun.

“It’s kind of scary actually,” Murdock said. “It’s like driving your car and getting your driver’s license. If you just took the written test, they don’t know if you know how to really drive that thing or not.”

Oklahoma’s firearm training requires that the applicant undergo about eight hours worth of instruction and show proficiency with their weapon. States as Virginia and Nevada are more lax, but Oklahoma accepts their licenses.

“Oklahoma recognizes the handgun license for any state,” said Felicia Jackson, Self Defense Act licensing unit manager at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. “We don’t differentiate between resident and nonresident.”

Public officials have often cited Oklahoma’s required firearms training as a way to ensure the public’s safety and ensure the license holder is a responsible gun owner, while also expanding where and how people can carry their weapon.

In 2012, when the state passed an Open Carry law, which requires someone carrying a firearm openly to have a valid handgun license, Gov. Mary Fallin said the measure “sends a strong message that Oklahoma values the rights of its citizens to defend themselves, their family and their property. It does so in a responsible way, by requiring those citizens who choose to openly carry a handgun to undergo both firearms training and a background check.”

Several bills filed this legislative session would further expand where and how handguns can be carried: License holders could bypass security checkpoints and carry a gun into the State Capitol, carry a handgun at a public university or college or store a gun in vehicles in state prison parking lots.

Several websites offer online training courses for nonresident licenses.

“Why are so many Oklahoma residents choosing to get a Virginia Permit?” asks one site offering the course. “The Oklahoma permit requires in-person training classes that can be long, boring, inconvenient and expensive. Not everybody has time to sit through these classes. Then the remainder of the process is long, tedious, time consuming and expensive as well.”

Sites such as Groupon offer discounts for the online courses, making them as low as $25 per person.

Will Andrews, a licensed firearm instructor who manages the concealed carry classes at H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City, said going through in-person training is important, because students will be taught specifically what Oklahoma law says a gun owner can and cannot do with a firearm.

“There are things in the law, what the law actually says, that surprises someone every time we do the class,” Andrews said.
“Generally, people are shocked because the law is much more restrictive than they had originally envisioned,” Andrews said.

And the state law requiring that a license applicant be proficient is important because of obvious safety reasons, Andrews said, though additional shooting practice is encouraged outside the class for students to hone their skills.

“If someone needed to use a gun in the real world to protect themselves legitimately, everyone on the immediate area will benefit from their ability to hit their intended target and not the rest of us,” Andrews said. “There’s a real safety issue, and ultimately for the student, a liability issue, in being able to hit well.”

Mike Boring, district attorney for Beaver, Cimarron, Harper, and Texas counties, brought the issue to Murdock’s attention.

“I want people to be able to legally carry their firearms where they can legally carry them,” Boring said. “But we have had cases where people mistakenly think they can carry their firearm about anywhere. Obviously, they cannot do that in Oklahoma. That’s an important part of this instruction and training.”

  • Bob

    if you check, Oklahoma does not recognize a Virginia license for residents unless the resident also has an oklahoma license. I thought about getting one. also thought about a TX license since veterans cost is only $25. But, being a resident of Oklahoma it wouldntbe honored unless I also have an Oklahoma permit.

    • jd

      never heard that

    • Larry Freeman

      I’m pretty sure you’re incorrect (read: wrong) on that point. Why would anyone in Oklahoma with a CCW license want to get another one from Virginia, or Texas or anywhere else? 35 states, of which Oklahoma is one, all recognize each others carry permits–it’s called reciprocity. In fact, Oklahoma honors a carry permit from ANY of the other 49 states. If you can furnish chapter and verse of the law you’re quoting I’ll admit my mistake, but that’s a HUGE “if”.

  • As an Oklahoma SDA instructor, I will not abbreviate my hands-on training just because the state now offers a shake-and-bake on-line course. I will take a student who has taken the on-line course, but will still teach teach the safety and fundamentals portion of the course before I take them to the range for live fire. I won’t teach the statutes portion if they took that on-line, which saves me about three hours in the classroom (and is the boring part). We, unlike some shady instructors out there, require 50 rounds on the range. We don’t shot cut. As for the statute portion, if a licensed individual gets into a legal bind, that’s not our problem anymore since they didn’t take that portion in our class. As we won’t reduce our course fee just because they took some of the course somewhere else. Murdock’s excuse that some rural areas don’t have instructors is weak. If someone isn’t willing to travel to a class for one day, then they aren’t really motivated to get the license anyway. And, if there’s no instructors in their area, then where are they going to shoot under the auspices of an instructor? We on our range will not accept the liability, nor will our insurance, of signing off a student/applicant just because they shot 50 rounds on our range without proper instructor/student training in fundamentals and safety. It just won’t work.

    • adam qualls

      I was thinking about doing the Virginia course to save time and money but I have also been shooting guns since I was 5 uears old only thing I wont have is the law in Oklahoma cuz im from texas but isnt it basically I could carry everywhere unless posted other wise

    • Ann

      I wish instructors would do every day of the week classes because they are all on Saturdays, my husbands works and his days off are Sunday and Monday. So I do see peoples doing them online, I do practice shooting my gun all the time because I can where I live out in the country. Just as soon as they start doing classes different days of the week my husband and I can get our ccl. If you find someone willing to come teach you the class on that day you have to find 5 to 6 people whom want to get their ccl also and have the money for the class and provide the place to do the classroom time.

  • Jess Jennings

    Offer a shooting test for those who think they could pass it. When the state issues the license include the laws governing same.

  • John Jamison

    LEO’s in Oklahoma are required to train (at a minimum) annually and shoot a qualifying score in order to carry a firearm. These professionals are held to a certain level of proficiency to insure accuracy and they hit what they are shooting at.
    Retired officers are also required to qualify every year.
    SO………….why are SDA license holders not required to show shooting proficiency by the same standard? They are not required to post a score of any type.
    I can assure you that at least half (and that is probably generous) of my students could not shoot a qualifying score.
    Many of my students have never shot a firearm before attending class.
    As part of the SDA training, I include handgun handling skills (shooting fundamentals and malfunction clearances) but that is only and introduction.

  • John Jamison

    After watching Adcock’s video, reminded me of ALL of the CLEET online courses I have taken.
    As he said, you don’t have to watch the video, you can fast forward and take the test. Most of the CLEET online courses offer a pretest, which is the same as the post-test with questions in different order. Is this what we are in for here? If so, why even bother? At least design it so that one HAS to go thru all of the training and not be able to circumvent the process.

  • claudio

    Many oklahomans are getting an out of state Gun License simply because Oklahoma State won’t issue a License to green card holders but only to US Citizen .
    This is unconstitutional and could easily won in a federal court against the OK State but permanent residents prefer the easiest solution : get a non resident Gun License from another state .

  • Clint Doe

    I have been a responsible firearm owner since I was young and started hunting. I was taught safe firearm conditions that remove the danger of accident and the respect of the dangers involved. I am very aware of the limitations of carrying a handgun and times it should be used to secure the safety of my family friends and self. I realize the danger of a hand gun in the wrong hands of someone that does not know that it must only be used as a last result when a life or property cannot be secured with any other method. I applied for the Oklahoma permit and was denied because I failed to list an incident where I was arrested and subsequently released 3 hours later when the truth was known. I had gone through the training of 8 hours and demonstrated my proficiency with the firearm. I do not feel that I should have to start from scratch to obtain my license.