OKLAHOMA CITY — Supporters of a petition drive to nullify permitless carry raced to meet their Thursday deadline but appeared likely to have fallen short of securing enough signatures to get a referendum on the ballot.
At a 2 p.m. news conference, Rep. Jason Lowe, one of the leaders of the effort, announced that about 10,000 signatures were still needed and encouraged those who had not turned in signatures to do so.
“We are really close,” Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, said as the 5 p.m. deadline approached to turn the signed petitions into the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office.
Shortly after 5 p.m., Lowe said petitions had come in from Tulsa and other areas just before the deadline. An exact signature count was not immediately available; however, Lowe felt the group was close enough that the secretary of state needed to conduct an official count.
Supporters seeking to nullify House Bill 2597 need 59,320 petition signatures to get the issue on a statewide ballot in 2020.
The measure, called both permitless carry and constitutional carry, allows individuals to carry a weapon without a permit or training.
Passed during the last legislative session, HB 2597 was the first bill signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt and takes effect Nov. 1.
“This is a dangerous law,” Lowe said. “This is a law that does not need to be enacted on Nov. 1.”
He said supporters accomplished a lot during the two weeks the petition was circulating.
“Just imagine if we had 90 days. We would have over 200,000 signatures at this rate,” he said.
Moms Demand Action, a group that says it supports common sense gun laws, and others gathered signatures across the state.
Lowe said the effort was done by volunteers.
“This whole event has been done with zero dollars,” Lowe said. “Zero dollars.”
Jennifer Birch of Oklahoma City is a chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“Permitless carry is a dangerous policy that will endanger Oklahomans,” she said. “We know that gun violence will increase because of it.”
The Oklahoma Second Amendment Association and others filed a challenge to the proposed referendum with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday.
Lowe said that if enough signatures are not gathered, other options are on the table, such as an initiative petition that would require a higher signature threshold to bring about a statewide vote.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Jennifer Murphy talks about the Tulsa Police new reading program and school supply handout at the Darlington Apartments.