Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 14, 2013

Handgun change meant to help

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A change coming for a Garvin County law enforcement agency is meant to help out both employees there and those looking to get a handgun license.

Starting Friday, March 15 the sheriff’s office in the county courthouse in Pauls Valley will begin new processing times for the Self Defense Act (SDA) and concealed carry handgun applications.

Anyone interested in acquiring a handgun license can now submit their application from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The idea behind the new hours for the handgun licenses is to help out sheriff’s employees, who are responsible for a number of other duties, while at the same time making the process a little bit faster for those coming into the office.

Undersheriff Jim Mullett said sometimes a number of people looking to submit their handgun applications come into the office around the same time.

The result is they soon find themselves in a line waiting their turn, which means the process winds up taking far longer than normal.

That’s why Sheriff Larry Rhodes made the decision to shorten the application hours by two days a week. The idea is to make the whole thing more efficient.

“We want to make it easier for the public to get licenses,” Mullett said about the new hours.

“We’re trying to make it more of a convenience,” he said. “We don’t people to have to rush here on their lunch hour and see that we’re slammed, so they have to wait.

“We want our service to be better. That’s why we’re doing this.”

The way it works is someone looking to get a SDA handgun license first fills out an application, which is then taken to the sheriff’s office.

A staff member there then takes the fingerprints and a photo of the applicant, scans over the application and makes sure the documentation is in place, which includes a certificate showing that firearm training has been completed.

The process also includes background checks and fees.

When there’s no waiting the process takes around 30 minutes to get through.

All the items are then placed in an envelope and sent to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which then can give the final OK for the license.

“We essentially put the application package together for the OSBI,” Mullett said.

The undersheriff again stresses the new hours are meant to help everyone involved in the process get through it faster.

“We’re just trying to consolidate it into certain time slots so we know to designate that for SDA purposes,” he said.

“We’re not trying to deny anyone from having a SDA license. We’re actually for people having SDA licenses.

“We’re just trying to better the service for the community. If we designate certain days and time slots for the SDA application process then we can do it better, and that helps the public.”

The applications are accepted at sheriff offices around the state but not all are done the same way.

“In some place you have to make an appointment. You can’t just show up,” Mullett said.