Opponents of the bill requiring background checks on private gun sales are now on a mission to get it overturned through a public vote.
This is a rare move Republicans are about to embark on. They want to gather enough signatures on a petition to force the issue onto a ballot for the public to vote on.
“We will go across the state. We have hundreds of people that have already said, ‘Get me one, I’ll carry it door to door,’ and we’re going to arm those with the opportunity to do what voters do,” House Minority Leader Rep. James Townsend said.
House Republican leaders say their office has received thousands of calls and emails from people against Senate Bill 8. They now have drafted a letter to the Secretary of State expressing their intent to gather petition signatures.
They cite Article 4 Sec 1 of the state’s constitution, saying people reserve the power to disapprove, suspend and annul any law enacted by the legislature with a few exceptions.
That clause allows a public vote if they gather signatures of 10 percent of the number of voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 general election, and they must come from at least 25 counties. That equals 70,166 signatures.
The Speaker of the House believes this bill is one of those so-called exceptions.
“It appears the House Republicans have not read the entire passage of the constitution because it very clearly says the voters may not rescind or nullify a law dealing with public safety. Obviously, Senate Bill 8 is about keeping communities safe,” Speaker of the House Rep. Brian Egolf said.
If the governor does sign this bill as expected, it would go into effect on July 1, 2019. The petition would have to be handed in by July 3, 2020, to force a vote.
There are a little more than 1.2 million registered voters in the state. About 560,000 are registered Democrats, 372,000 are registered Republicans and 265,000 are undeclared.