Applications for those seeking a concealed weapon license through Oklahoma’s Self Defense Act appear to be on the rise in Pottawatomie County. And when the law changes Nov. 1, those with licenses also can choose to openly carry their weapons.

Applications for those seeking a concealed weapon license through Oklahoma’s Self Defense Act appear to be on the rise in Pottawatomie County. And when the law changes Nov. 1, those with licenses also can choose to openly carry their weapons.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation processes SDA applications and keeps statistics by year. In 2011, the OSBI approved 24,018 SDA permits statewide and denied 975 applications. For those in Pottawatomie County, 442 licenses were approved in 2011.

If statistics being tallied by the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office so far in 2012 keep at the current pace, the number of permits here will be much higher this year.

It’s estimated from sheriff’s office records that more than 300 applications have been made so far this year; it can take about 90 days from the time of application to final approval.

Changes will take effect on the concealed carry gun law Nov. 1 that will allow those who are licensed, or already have been licensed, to openly carry a weapon if they choose. And while some believe the increase is because of open carry, many said obtaining a permit is still about protecting themselves.

For L. Yahola, who was at the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office to get fingerprints for part of her application, it was three jail escapees from Okfuskee County months back who prompted her to take action and get her license.

“You hear so many things on the news,” she said, adding one of those escapees was eventually captured near her home.

And while she could openly carry a gun when the law changes Nov. 1, Yahola has no plans to do that if she gets her permit.

 “I don’t want to be challenged,” she said, adding she plans to conceal her weapon. And while she doesn’t want to harm anyone, she said will be prepared to defend herself, her children and her grandchildren.

Paul Abel, a former Pottawatomie County sheriff, is a firearms instructor who teaches the required eight-hour firearms course for SDA applicants.

He said while open carry doesn’t become effective for a couple more months, he’s already incorporating some changes for open carry into his current SDA classes.
Abel, who said his classes have been full, said most participants tell him they don’t plan to openly carry and will conceal their firearms, and he agrees with that theory.

“You’re giving away your element of surprise,” Abel said, “and telling the bad guy where your gun is.”

He said he believes the number of those seeking permits this year isn’t necessarily increasing because of the open carry change, but because the state of the world today.

“People have become afraid of things on the streets,” Abel said, citing incidents such as the Colorado movie theater massacre.

“If somebody had a concealed carry or open carry and been armed, they might have stopped this guy,” he said, which may prompt some to seek licenses.

In the past, most of Abel’s monthly classes have had 15 to 18 participants.
“Now we’re running close to 30 people,” Abel said.

Warren Boles, a former law enforcement officer and area firearms instructor, said he’s also seen a peak of participants in his SDA classes. Boles said he’s seeing an average of 10 to 12 more registrants per class.

A retired Shawnee man getting his fingerprints on Friday said he wants to have his license for both self-defense and home defense.

“I’m getting older and I’m not physically as able to deal with people like I was,” he said, adding “there’s so much going on nowadays.”

He plans to carry concealed. For the retired military resident, concerns over the way the country is moving politically also prompted him to want to have a permit and ensure his right to bear arms.

A Shawnee woman who is beginning the process to get her permit said her husband already has a license and wanted her to be protected as well. But a big factor in her decision came after a friend was carjacked in Oklahoma City, she said, where she regularly travels.

Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Deputy Al Turner handles all the fingerprints for the SDA applications and said there’s been a definite increase in recent weeks. Some days there may be a few applicants and other days there could be a line of people waiting.

Fingerprints for SDA applications are done at the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office from 8 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

As of July, 2012, there are 126,289 Oklahoma residents with active SDA licenses, according to the OSBI.


To receive a license under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act, applicants must take a firearms safety and training course and submit to a background check by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Once a person has a firearms course completion certificate, they complete an SDA application, which is available from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation by mail, or can be downloaded from the OSBI website.

Applicants must be 21 or older and meet many requirements, such as being a U.S. Citizen, have no protective orders against them and no felony convictions.

They must also have two current passport photos and a state ID, such as a driver license, and two methods of payment — a $25 fee to pay to the sheriff’s office for fingerprints, a background check and handling the application, then a payment to the OSBI for the actual license, which is either $100 for a five-year license, or $200 for a license valid for 10 years.

Applicants should allow at least 30 minutes for the fingerprint process at the sheriff’s office, then all of the paperwork and documents are sent to the OSBI for review and processing.

More information about conceal carry permits, including the SDA law book and application, as well as a list of certified firearms course instructors, is available online at: