The gun control movement doesn’t easily admit defeat. We can squash bad bills one year, but we know they’re coming back the next legislative session. Even when courts tell gun control advocates that they’re in the wrong, they continue to pursue the same strategies in other jurisdictions, hoping that they can get their agenda approved somewhere and then build on that success. It’s a strategy that relies on the long game of incremental change while constantly pushing for moments that will allow them to take a big swipe at our rights.
In Oklahoma, an anti-gun lawmaker is once again vowing take a big swipe and undo the state’s constitutional carry law which went into effect last year, despite the fact that his attempt to remove the law via a referendum ended in an abysmal failure just a few months ago.
State Rep. Jason Lowe of Oklahoma City and members of the group Moms Demand Action helped launch the initiative petition on Monday.
Once the petition has been processed, supporters will have 90 days to gather the roughly 95,000 signatures needed to put the question on the ballot.
Last year, the group claims it collected between 30,000 and 50,000 signatures when they needed 60,000 to qualify for the ballot. I’m guessing it was closer to 30,000 than 50,000, but even if the larger number accurate, that’s still only a little more than half the number they’ll need to gather to put the issue on the November 2020 ballot.
Why is Moms Demand Action wasting their time on this effort? Two reasons.
First, there’s no chance of any gun control bill passing in Oklahoma’s legislature at the moment, so this gives Moms Demand Action members something to do to stay engaged. Even more importantly, it gives Moms Demand Action an opportunity to collect names and information that they can then use in targeted voter outreach efforts in November’s elections, regardless of whether or not the anti-gun initiative is on the ballot.
The signature gathering process is almost destined to fail, if the intent is to put the issue of constitutional carry before the voters. It will still be a success for the gun control group, however, if they can turn out voters in some swing state legislative districts or congressional races. I suspect that’s what this is really about, though Lowe and Moms Demand Action would never admit it.
In fact, Lowe says he’s confident that they’ll be able to collect enough signatures this time around, but of course he said the the first time around as well. He was also confident when he filed a lawsuit to block constitutional carry from going into effect, right up until a judge rejected his argument and allowed the law to take effect.
It’s been fifteen years since I’ve lived in Oklahoma, so maybe things have changed more than I realized, but I would be very surprised if the proposed rollback of constitutional carry actually ends up on the ballot, and I would be utterly shocked if it passes. Still, Lowe isn’t letting the issue drop, and even another failure isn’t likely to make him or Moms Demand Action give up on rolling back Oklahoma’s newest pro-2A law.
It’s not just Oklahoma. In Florida, organizers of a ban on so-called “assault weapons” had months to collect signatures to put the ban before voters this November, and couldn’t even get halfway to their goal. They too are vowing to try again, this time for the 2022 elections.
In New Mexico, a year after red flag legislation was defeated in the state Senate, a new bill is soon to hit the Senate floor. The same objections to last year’s bill still exist, but supporters are hoping to peel away just a couple of Democrat senators to push the bill through.
Utah lawmakers also defeated a red flag bill last year, only to see it pop up again this session. The Republican sponsor says there’s plenty of evidence showing that Extreme Risk Protection Orders work to prevent suicide, but as we’ve pointed out here before, suicides have actually increased in states where red flag laws have been on the books for the longest period of time.
Back in November, I spoke at a 2A rally in Washington, D.C. held on the same day as the Washington Nationals’ victory parade following their World Series win. There were a lot of people on the National Mall that beautiful fall day holding signs that read “Fight Finished”, and none of them were there for the 2A rally.
Our fight will never be finished. There’s always going to be a political movement intent on making the Second Amendment a dead letter; words on paper that have no real legal importance. We have to be ever alert, ever vigilant, and always engaged, because our ideological opponents are going to keep grinding away, hoping to take as big a bite out of our constitutional rights as they can, but always willing to settle for a nibble rather than nothing at all.