OKLAHOMA CITY — A state representative sued Gov. Kevin Stitt Monday in a last-ditch effort to thwart the Nov. 1 implementation of a new law that will allow Oklahomans to carry guns without licensing or training.
State Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, said he and four other plaintiffs filed the lawsuit because they believe the permitless carry law violates the state constitution. The suit seeks an injunction while an Oklahoma County district court judge decides if the so-called constitutional carry measure violates the state’s single-subject law, he said.
The constitutional provision prohibits having multiple topics in one bill.
“We’re excited,” Lowe said. “We’re looking forward to challenging this dangerous law.”
Lowe’s lawsuit contends that the bill addresses the carriage of multiple weapons, and it also addresses the ban of guns, machetes, blackjacks, loaded canes, hand chains and metal knuckles on college campuses. The measure also forbids undocumented immigrants from carrying toy guns, reduces the regulations for transporting firearms and no longer requires carriers to disclose that they’re carrying guns to law enforcement during traffic stops.
The legislative measure, which was signed into law by the Republican governor, allows anyone at least 21 years old without a felony conviction or other criminal records to carry with no permitting, licensing or training. The bill does not allow people to brandish firearms nor does it change where Oklahomans can legally carry. For instance, people would still be prohibited from carrying on college campuses.
“The Governor’s Office is reviewing the lawsuit,” spokeswoman Baylee Lakey said. “It is the policy of the Governor’s Office to not comment on ongoing litigation.”
Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said that office is also reviewing the lawsuit.
In recent weeks, gun-control advocates, including Lowe, led a citizen-led ballot initiative that sought give voters a say on whether to accept or reject the legislation. The effort failed to garner enough signatures to get the issue before voters.
Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, which championed the measure, said he’s certain the law is constitutional. The state’s self defense act is complex and contains multiple sections addressing firearm possession, he said. Sections of the law frequently get updated to make sure they interact with each other.
“I think it’s your basic Hail Mary pass,” he said of the lawsuit. “I think they’re desperate and will do whatever it takes to stop constitutional carry."
However, Spencer said supporters could complete the last-ditch maneuver if the district court judge is sympathetic to their lawsuit.
When the law takes effect next month, Oklahoma will become the 16th state to allow it, supporters say. The measure passed the Republican-controlled Legislature with overwhelming support.
Gun owners must still also acquire a permit to legally carry in some other states.
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.