OKLAHOMA CITY — In response to a legal challenge, supporters of an effort to nullify a bill allowing permitless carry concede they don’t have enough signatures to get it on the ballot.
The Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, several lawmakers and others filed the challenge in the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The challenge alleges that the description or gist of the proposed state question was misleading and inaccurate concerning where people would be able to carry a weapon without a permit or training.
Last session, lawmakers passed House Bill 2597, called constitutional carry or permitless carry. It is expected to take effect Nov. 1.
It was the first bill signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Last week, supporters, including Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, turned in signatures to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office seeking to get State Question 803 on the ballot in 2020.
They needed 59,320 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.
On Thursday, they filed their response to the legal challenge pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
“While the proponents certainly obtained a substantial number of signatures in an exceedingly short time, nevertheless, even under the estimates most favorable to them, they do not think they obtained the signatures necessary to suspend (House Bill) 2597 from operation and refer the measure to a vote of the people in 2020,” according to the response.
The response said supporters’ most optimistic estimate is that 50,000 signatures were obtained, but their conservative estimate is around 30,000 signatures, according to the brief.
Lowe said the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office will still count the signatures.
“It is far from over,” Lowe said.
He said critics are considering an initiative petition or a lawsuit.
House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, was the author of House Bill 2597.
Echols said he was not surprised that the effort fell short but was impressed with how many signatures were obtained.
He said it is time to move past the issue. He said he and others would be willing to discuss best practices and data to reduce gun violence.
“Constitutional carry has nothing to do with gun violence,” Echols said.
Don Spencer is president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, which backed House Bill 2597.
Spencer said supporters of nullification exaggerated what the law says.
“We are not surprised they would exaggerate their signature count,” Spencer said. “The Legislature, the governor and the people have spoken on this issue. As we anticipated, the law will go into effect Nov. 1.”