Oklahoma group challenges move to block permitless carry law
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Second Amendment Association is challenging efforts that would put on hold a new permitless carry law until voters weigh in on the issue.
The law passed earlier this year will allow Oklahoma residents to openly carry guns without a background check or training. The new law takes effect Nov. 1, but efforts are now underway for a statewide referendum on the measure.
The Oklahoman reports that the association filed a legal challenge Monday to the wording of the referendum petition, calling it inaccurate and misleading. Second Amendment Association President Don Spencer called the statewide vote a waste of time.
“Citizens of the state of Oklahoma have been waiting on this for over 112 years and it’s time for them to get their rights back,” he said.
But the measure’s backers, who have until 5 p.m. Thursday to collect nearly 60,000 signatures to get the measure on the 2020 ballot, dismissed those claims. State Rep. Jason Lowe, a Democrat from Oklahoma City, said Oklahomans think the new law is dangerous and that they deserve the opportunity to vote on it.
“I say to the naysayers, I say to the individuals who cite the Second Amendment, who indicate they believe in the Constitution, what’s more enshrined in the Constitution than the right to vote?” he said.
The debate comes in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio earlier this month, and as lawmakers nationwide push for proposals , including “red flag” laws, aimed at removing guns from people who are considered to be dangerous.
Dubbed “constitutional carry” by its supporters, the bill would allow most residents 21 and older to carry concealed or unconcealed firearms without a license. Exceptions would include anyone in the country illegally or those convicted of certain crimes. Firearms would still be prohibited in certain locations, including public buildings, schools, professional sporting events, casinos and bars.
Currently, those wishing to carry a firearm in public must apply for a license that includes a state background check and completion of a training course.
A similar bill was vetoed last year by Republican former Gov. Mary Fallin amid opposition from the business community and law enforcement.