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Oklahoma Supreme Court tosses permitless carry repeal, greenlights recreational pot petition

A concealed carry holster. (Alian Gear Holster/WikiMedia)

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked an initiative petition seeking to repeal the state’s permitless carry law.

However, the court gave the green light to a different initiative petition seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Oklahoma.

But with the deadline for state questions to qualify for the ballot quickly approaching, it seems increasingly unlikely that any initiative petition campaigns that have not already collected signatures could qualify for the November ballot.

The state’s high court ordered proposed State Question 809, which sought to repeal Oklahoma’s permitless carry law, stricken from the ballot. The campaign will not get to collect signatures without first rewriting and resubmitting the petition.

A majority of the court said the petition’s gist, or brief description, was legally insufficient to describe the measure. The justices agreed to points made by Attorney General Mike Hunter and attorneys for the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, which challenged the petition, saying the gist was flawed.

SQ 809, filed by Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, and supported by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, would have had to collect 95,000 signatures in a 90-day period to qualify for the ballot.

Also on Tuesday, the court dismissed a legal challenge to State Question 807, which will allow the campaign seeking to legalize recreational marijuana for those ages 21 and older to go ahead and collect signatures.

But the campaign is unlikely to have enough time to collect and turn in 178,958 signatures before the secretary of state’s Aug. 24 deadline for petitions to qualify for the November ballot. Normally, the campaign would have 90 days to collect the signatures, but there aren’t 90 days between now and the upcoming deadline.

Ryan Kiesel, a proponent of SQ 807, previously told The Oklahoman the COVID-19 pandemic had created a situation that made it nearly impossible to imagine an initiative petition campaign being able to feasibly and responsibly collect enough signatures in time.

The SQ 807 campaign was held up in court due to a handwritten legal challenge by self-proclaimed Tulsa activist Paul Tay. The pandemic also slowed down the rate at which the Supreme Court was hearing cases.

Even with the court’s decision, the SQ 807 campaign will not be able to start collecting signatures immediately.

State law normally requires the date to begin circulating petitions be set not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days from the date when all appeals, protests and rehearings have been resolved or expired. Oklahoma Secretary of State Michael Rogers will have to set a date for when signature gathering can begin.


© 2020 The Oklahoman