The Oklahoma attorney general has issued an opinion that out-of-state handgun licenses obtained by Oklahomans online are as valid as Oklahoma-issued handgun licenses, even if the other state has more lenient requirements.
The opinion, released Friday, states that Oklahoma residents with a “non-resident” handgun license from another state, such as Virginia, and Utah, are as valid as Oklahoma’s concealed handgun license.
Oklahoma’s Self-Defense Act recognizes handgun licenses from all other states and allows individuals to openly carry handguns as long as the person has a valid handgun license.
People who live in other states can often obtain a nonresident handgun license by taking a short online course and passing a background check by authorities their home state. The courses, which mostly require applicants to pass a multiple-choice quiz, do not require the applicant to actually fire their gun to demonstrate proficiency and do not cover the non-resident’s home state concealed carry laws.
Oklahoma’s Self-Defense Act requires the applicant to undergo about eight hours worth of instruction, including the state’s concealed carry laws, and demonstrate proficiency with their weapon. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation issues the licenses.
Last year, Oklahoma Watch reported on nonresident handgun licenses obtained by Oklahomans.
Some Oklahoma law enforcement officials, firearms instructors and legislators expressed concern about Oklahomans obtaining non-resident handgun licenses issued by other states rather than state licenses. Those concerns include a lack of understanding about the state’s handgun laws and a lack of experience firing the gun.
In 2015, Mike Boring, district attorney for Beaver, Cimarron, Harper, and Texas counties, brought the issue up to Rep. Casey Murdock, R-Felt. Murdock introduced a bill that would allow the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to offer online courses for Oklahoma handgun permits, and included language requiring Oklahoma residents to have an Oklahoma-issued license.
However, the Oklahoma licensing requirement was later stricken from the bill, though the online course section was passed and signed by the governor in 2015.
This year, Boring requested an official opinion from Attorney General Scott Pruitt. The opinion issued on Friday states that under the Self-Defense Act, an Oklahoma resident could indeed have a valid out-of-state handgun license to carry a handgun concealed or openly.
“With respect to licenses issued by other states, the Act recognizes any valid concealed or unconcealed carry weapons permit or license issued by another state,” the opinion reads.
“This reflects a permissive approach to recognition of licenses from other states, whereby Oklahoma does not look behind the license to determine whether the licensing requirements were commensurate with the Act’s requirements for issuance through the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.”