The Stillwater City Council joined leaders in other Oklahoma cities Monday when they threw their support behind a petition drive that would bring the issue of permitless carry of firearms to a vote of the people.

Although the petition has been referred to as a “veto petition” it would not in itself decide the issue. If the organizers are successful in gathering almost 60,000 valid signatures, the referendum petition will force the State of Oklahoma to hold an election to determine whether a majority of voters want anyone over 21 or any service member over 18 to be able to carry a gun without obtaining a license and going through mandated training.

Federal background check regulations would still apply.

The Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 2597, known by proponents as “constitutional carry” in February and Gov. Kevin Stitt signed it into law.

The measure made its way through the legislature last year, during Gov. Mary Fallin’s final term in office, but she vetoed it in May 2018.

The councilors said a majority of the residents in this area, even gun owners, seem to feel more comfortable if people carrying guns are required to get a license and go through some training. They want to be sure everyone has the opportunity for their voice to be heard, something that may not have happened during the last legislative session, they said.

Mayor Will Joyce noted that two out of three of the Stillwater area’s state representatives voted against HB2597 based on feedback from their constituents.

The councilors emphasized that their resolution does not carry any legal weight and has no impact on anyone’s ability to carry a gun. It’s not an issue where the state grants them local control.

Two residents spoke against the resolution, saying they believe the Second Amendment guarantees them the right to own and carry a gun.

The state firearms license just requires people to pay $200 to exercise their rights, Anthony Lewis said. Lewis and another speaker, Jacob Boyce, said they believe the cost of getting a license keeps some people from being able to defend themselves. Boyce called it “a $200 tax that removes the rights of poor people.”

“Shall not be infringed means shall not be infringed,” Boyce said.

Other speakers supported the referendum and encouraged the City Council to approve the resolution.

Beth Furnish said she has had interesting conversations with many people, including gun owners, while she has been gathering signatures for the petition.

Many gun owners have signed the petition, Furnish said. She has been surprised at the number of people who weren’t aware of the law, which is set to take effect Nov. 1.

“The petition is not anti-gun,” Furnish said. “It is pro-training and pro-permitting.”

In other business: the City Council reviewed eight properties to determine if they area dilapidated and abandoned and should be demolished.

Properties at 214 S. Main, 216 N. Main, 502 S. Lowry, 506 S. Lowry, 711 ½ W. 8th Ave. and 1023 W. 10th Ave were declared dilapidated and the owners were given Jan. 1 deadlines to have them torn down. The council wants a progress update on Nov. 1.

The owners of a house at 716 W. 9th Ave. and a commercial building at 4920 N. Washington were give an opportunity to address concerns about the conditions of their properties.

They will report back on Oct. 21, when the City Council holds its next dilapidated property hearing.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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