Rep. Jason Lowe's referendum petition targets a bill passed overwhelmingly last session that quickly became the first signed by the state's new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt. The bill is scheduled to take effect Nov. 1.
"This bill was railroaded through the Legislature to the governor's desk," said Lowe, who was flanked at a press conference by church leaders and members of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action. "I have long thought this bill was not only a bad idea, but bad practice for our state."
Lowe said he was inspired to launch the petition after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio this month that left more than 30 people dead.
Supporters of the repeal will face a tight deadline to gather the nearly 60,000 signatures before the end of August that are required to get the question on the ballot in 2020. An attorney for the group, Brian Ted Jones, said he expects supporters to begin gathering signatures as early as Wednesday.
"I understand the window is narrow as far as getting this done, but I've got to do something," Lowe said.
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.
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