permitless carry
A packed House Public Safety Committee watches the board for the vote on HB 3357 on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Tres Savage)

Those who want to repeal Oklahoma’s new law allowing the open carry of firearms without a permit will have to hang their hopes on a proposed initiative petition after the House Public Safety Committee shot down HB 3357 by an 1-11 vote this morning.

“I have filed a bill to repeal permitless carry that was enacted last November,” Rep. Jason Lowe said when presenting his bill. “I believe this law is absolutely dangerous. It is a ticking time bomb, and it has been an utter disaster.”

While the measure received a “do-pass” motion and a second, it failed with only Rep. Ben Loring (D-Miami) voting in favor. No questions were asked of Lowe, and there was no debate.

“I’m a legislator, and so I have an opportunity to file bills and bring bills into committees,” Lowe said in the hallway afterward. “Definitely I’m going to do everything possible (to repeal permitless carry).”

SQ 809 could start signature process before end of month

In furtherance of doing “everything possible,” Lowe has also proposed State Question 809, which started its 14-day appeal and protest process Feb. 10. Lowe said Thursday that no protests had been filed yet, with the window closing Monday.

Lowe’s initiative petition would need about 95,000 signatures to reach a 2020 ballot. Lowe (D-OKC) first spearheaded and attempted a referendum petition in the fall, but the process began late in the signature-collection window and fell short. He also filed a lawsuit in October to stop implementation of the permitless carry law passed by the Legislature during the 2019 session. The lawsuit was dismissed, and the law took effect.

“I know that the people in the state of Oklahoma are going to make a decision, and I am excited about the fact we are going to start our signature gathering probably in the next week or so,” Lowe said.

Despite differences, Lowe and Humphrey ‘friends’

To start Thursday’s House Public Safety Committee, Chairman Justin Humphrey (R-Lane) told the assembled proponents and opponents that he and Lowe were on different sides of the issue but that Lowe deserved to have his bill receive a hearing.

“When this is done, me and him are still going to be really good friends and carry on business and work together for the state of Oklahoma,” Humphrey said. “If you catch us afterward, please be polite if you could.”

Lowe began his bill presentation by thanking Humphrey.

“Although we disagree on practically everything, I appreciate your friendship,” Lowe said to laughter.

(Correction: This story was updated at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, to include Rep. Jason Lowe’s first name. NonDoc regrets the error.)