OKLAHOMA CITY - Legislation that would allow for Oklahomans to renew their gun permits electronically cleared its first hurdle Thursday.
House Bill 1849 was nearly unanimously approved in a House committee, and now heads to the House Calendar Committee before seeing the House floor.
"I consider this legislation to be a government modernization bill because it basically puts another licensing process online for the convenience of all Oklahomans applying for the license," said state Rep. Mike Ritze, who authored the bill. "With any luck, one day individuals can obtain all licenses they need online rather than by going to some office and waiting in a long line."
The measure would address the logjams seen at Oklahoma county sheriff's offices over the last several months. The numbers of gun permits peaked in January, with nearly 5,000 in the state turning in applications -- the most since Oklahoma began issuing the licenses in 1996.
MORE: Gun license FAQ (http://bit.ly/OSBIfaq)
The state has seen a significant push for gun rights of late, a likely backlash against the Democrat-led clamor for gun control. Most of Oklahoma's politicians -- including Ritze -- have loudly disagreed with the left's response to recent firearm-related tragedies.
"I believe strongly in the importance of our Second Amendment right to carry firearms to defend ourselves," said Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. "I was proud to be among those supporting the current open carry law and I am glad that the bill I am carrying this year will make it easier to renew a license to carry a firearm."
A bill currently being considered by a state House panel would return gun ownership rights to some ex-felons in the state. Another would put guns in the hands of some teachers.