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Capitol Insider: The Latest On Gun Laws


In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley discuss the most recent developments in the effort to stop Oklahoma's permitless carry law from taking effect Nov. 1, as well as a proposal that would ban so-called "red flag laws" in the state. 


Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider, your weekly look inside Oklahoma politics and policy. I'm Dick Pryor with eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley. Shawn, more than a week has passed now since supporters of that initiative petition to repeal the state's permitless carry law submitted signatures for verification. It looks like they're going to fall short. What's the latest?

Shawn Ashley: As you may remember, there was a challenge to their initiative petition filed in the Oklahoma Supreme Court. And, in answering that petition, that challenge, they were asked to reveal how many signatures they thought they had in a filing on Thursday. The attorney for the proponents of that proposal said it looked like they had no more than about 50,000 and perhaps as few as as 30,000 signatures. A total of more than 59,000 are needed in order to get that on a 2020 statewide ballot. So it appears like they may have fallen significantly short.

Pryor: So what happens next?

Ashley: Those signatures will be counted by the Secretary of State's office, and then those numbers are transmitted to the Supreme Court, which in the end will likely say that they did not have the required signatures for that petition to move forward.

Pryor: In a somewhat related story, Sen. Nathan Dahm, Republican of Broken Arrow, has filed the first new bill for next year's legislative session. What does it purport to do?

Ashley: Senate Bill 1081 is the Anti-Red Flag Act, and we've heard a lot of discussion in recent weeks about red flag laws. These are laws which would allow law enforcement to remove guns from someone's home if there was some reason to believe they might be some sort of threat to other people, to large buildings, individuals, or even themselves.

Sen. Dahm's bill would prohibit those laws from being implemented in Oklahoma in three very specific ways. First of all, it would nullify any federal red flag law and not allow it to be utilized in Oklahoma. Secondly, it would prohibit cities, counties and other political subdivisions within the state of Oklahoma from implementing their own red flag laws. And then, finally, it would prohibit any law enforcement officer in Oklahoma from enforcing a red flag law.

Pryor: House Speaker Charles McCall is creating a bipartisan House Redistricting Committee to redraw legislative districts. How does the House of Representatives handled redistricting?

Ashley: Well, what House Speaker Charles McCall has proposed is really what they did 10 years ago, and that is a very public and citizen-involved process. The House Speaker indicated that he will put together the committee, which will also include a number of subcommittees that will travel across the state to talk to residents about what their needs are in terms of representation. And in some areas of the state you have more urban areas, such as Enid, Oklahoma, that are surrounded by very rural areas and some of their representation needs may be different. So they want to hear input from the residents of those areas in order to get a better idea of how the state should be divided up.

Pryor: So that's how the House goes about doing its business. What about the Senate? And how do they reconcile the two?

Ashley: Well, we don't know yet what the Senate approach will be. Over the last several years people have been complimentary of the House's approach, while the Senate operated in another way, more cloistered and behind closed doors where there was not as much public input. In the end the redistricting efforts become bills which go through the legislative process and ultimately have to be approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor.

Pryor: Redistricting may be especially interesting this time as we continue to see inward migration towards cities outward migration from rural areas. What might that do to these district maps?

Ashley: Well it's something that we've been seeing for a number of years now. Those more rural districts are getting larger, because in order to to collect the required number of people to be represented in them you have to cover larger and larger areas of landmass. The districts within the urban areas are becoming smaller and more concentrated, simply because of the larger numbers of people who are there.

Pryor: All right. Thanks, Shawn.

Ashley You're very welcome.

Pryor: That's Capitol Insider. If you have questions e-mail us at news@kgou.org or contact us on Twitter at @kgounews. You can also find us online at KGOU.org and eCapitol.net, Apple podcasts and Spotify. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.

Caroline produced Capitol Insider and did general assignment reporting from 2018 to 2019. She joined KGOU after a stint at Marfa Public Radio, where she covered a wide range of local and regional issues in far west Texas. Previously, she reported on state politics for KTOO Public Media in Alaska and various outlets in Washington State.
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