Ohio Senate passes concealed carry bill over objections of law enforcement groups
Opponents, including the Ohio FOP, argue the bill hamstrings law enforcement and makes Ohioans less safe.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) - The Ohio Senate on Wednesday passed a concealed carry bill that proposes to make carrying a handgun much easier than before.
SB215 was introduced by Sen. Terry Johnson (R-Batavia) and 13 co-sponsors in August.
The bill makes concealed carry licenses optional—thereby removing background checks and training minimums—for those 21 and over who wish to carry a firearm.
The bill also eliminates the requirement that Ohioans promptly notify law enforcement officers during a traffic stop if they have a concealed weapon.
Additionally, officers are prohibited from detaining, conducting a search or making a seizure of anyone for having a firearm who is otherwise law-abiding.
The Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee heard uniform criticism of the bill during a public hearing on Tuesday.
The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police “strongly” opposes the bill.
Michael Weinman, FOP’s government affairs director, called the bill’s erasure of the notification requirement, which emerged at the FOP’s urging during CCL negotiations in 2004, a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for having a firearm.
He also argued the bill forces officers to make prima facie determinations on whether a person is law-abiding.
“What does a law-abiding person look like?” Weinman posed. “How do they act? The testimony we’ve heard says that we must treat everyone as armed and a threat. The bill, however, forces us to assume that everyone is law-abiding and not a threat to anyone.”
Keary McCarthy, executive director of the Ohio Mayors Alliance, argued the bill will increase violent crime and officer-involved shootings.
She said the bill puts officers at risk because it would allow people convicted of misdemeanors, such as assault of an officer, to carry concealed weapons, something they cannot do now.
She echoed Weinman’s point that the bill would make enforcing gun laws “effectively impossible” for Ohio police: “[W]ithout a concealed carry permit requirement, a law enforcement officer will have no way of determining whether that person is carrying a concealed weapon legally or illegally.”
Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey also testified against the bill.
“Allowing virtually anyone in Ohio to conceal weapons on their person without training or background checks will make Ohio less safe. More than that, it will make the job of law enforcement even more stressful,” McGuffey said.
NRA State Director John Weber countered in testimony in October the bill “simply allows a person who is otherwise legally able to possess a firearm to do so in a manner of their choosing, often in a [discreet,] concealable fashion. Again, this is not a new or uncommon policy.”
The Ohio House passed a similar bill last week. Lawmakers must decide whether to make a concealed weapons permit optional, including the mandatory eight hours of training.
It also eliminates the current requirement that people promptly notify police officers they are carrying a concealed weapon.
Twenty-one states currently allow concealed carry without a CCL.
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