It’s been about six weeks now since my wife and I participated in and completed the Oklahoma Self Defense Act course in order for us to legally carry a weapon.

It’s been about six weeks now since my wife and I participated in and completed the Oklahoma Self Defense Act course in order for us to legally carry a weapon.

We’d been talking about it, so while she was out of town on a business trip I signed us up to take the course from Paul Abel, retired Shawnee policeman and former Pottawatomie County Sheriff.

When she learned what I’d done, she wasn’t quite sure. But I finally convinced her we needed to do it, though continued persuasion was needed until the day arrived when we took the course.

Our class at Abel’s place west of Shawnee began a little after 7:30 and didn’t finish until 5:30 that Saturday evening. As Abel was quick to explain, this is a required eight-hour course which includes shooting on his range.

He gives the course once a month, he said.

Of the 33 who took the course that day, the only other people Pat and I knew in the class were Roberta Wortham and Lois Fullbright. We sat next to them.

Abel knows the law well, and is a longtime member of the Oklahoma Riflemen’s Association and National Rifle Association, doing lobbying for them both at the state Capitol.

He quickly emphasized the Bill of Rights guarantees our right to bear arms, adding the Oklahoma Constitution basically says the same thing.

Throughout the course, Abel stressed causes for using a gun should be reasonable and necessary. He pointed out some of the justifications for using a gun, saying “your home is your castle. They are paid for (a term he consistently used that day) if they break in and you are there.”

By paid for, he explained, he meant shooting is justified, including ending one’s life at the end of that barrel.

He noted Oklahoma’s “Make My Day Law,” which he called one of the best in the nation, provides immunity when there is a need to shoot someone.

One of the themes that day was Abel continually mentioned “imminent danger,” when you, a member of your family, immediate or extended, are endangered at the point one’s life is threatened.

“If someone hijacks you with a weapon, he is paid for,” Abel explained, insisting that deadly force is warranted.

He didn’t hesitate when he told the class “never shoot to wound. Shoot to kill always.”

He highly recommends, too, a person conceal his or her weapon, rather than open carry. A person concealing a weapon is less vulnerable, because someone who may be trying to cause harm can’t tell you are armed if your weapon is concealed.

Chad Pope is a deputy under Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth and Pope is also assigned to the U.S. Marshal’s Metro Fugitive Task Force full time as well.

In addition, Pope also instructs the course.

Pope said he tries to give the course every couple of weeks, keeping the classes small in number, because of the increased demand which has been extremely high since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. in December.

He describes the interest as high from the calls he’s receiving, the applicants coming through the local Sheriff’s Office and figures released from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation which approves the permits.

Pope says there is considerable interest from women.

“My class ratios are about 50-50 and it seems women are a little more serious about it. They have a firm stance and demeanor that they are not going to be victims,” he explained.

He says the women make really good students. “They are really good shooters and have a high willingness to learn shooting sports,” Pope stated.

He points out long guns are hard to manage while in a house, especially while trying to hold a flashlight or using a cell phone to call 911 for help, he said.

He emphasizes to his students and the public “we are responsible for anything we send down range.”

Pope added “I tell my students to abide by the law.” He also stresses to them “It’s an insurance policy, and it levels the playing field.”

He noted “we are proponents of armed citizens. You keep yourself safe until someone gets there,” he said.

In order to obtain the permit to legally carry a gun, a person should obtain a packet from their county sheriff’s office. It will contain a questionnaire, a copy of the Oklahoma Self Defense Act, and two fingerprint cards.

One will need two passport size photos which will be taped to the fingerprint cards.

In the case of our class, Abel walked us through filling out the questionnaire. At the end of the day, Pat and I and other members of the class each received a Certificate of Achievement showing we were certified and had completed the course.

Abel told us not to fill out the fingerprint card that day.

We had taken the course on a Saturday, so on Monday I took my paperwork to the sheriff’s office with a $100 money order made out to the OSBI. You must be fingerprinted in the county where you reside, and the sheriff’s office does that here. It will require $25 to cover their costs. Once that is done and the sheriff’s office checks your paperwork, the personnel there will mail it off to the OSBI. Debbie Christian handles the paperwork, Al Turner the fingerprinting for Sheriff Mike Booth.

After that is completed and sent off, the OSBI reviews it and they caution it will be about three months before we receive our permits.

The OSBI is so backed up because of the dramatic increase in Oklahomans seeking these permits.