FOX19 - The Republican-dominated Ohio Legislature approved sweeping NRA-backed gun control measures, aiming to curtail the list of spots where firearms are not allowed to be carried in the state and to ease carry laws for servicemen and women.
Senate Bill 199, sponsored by Sen. Joe Uecker, R-Loveland, passed with a 68-25 vote Friday morning. The measure exempts military personnel from needing permits to conceal a firearm and grants protected class status to workers who hold concealed carry permits.
The bill also absorbed language from House Bill 48 which approves gun owners with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on school campuses that allow it, day cares, airport terminals and some government property. The bill now heads to Gov. John Kasich's desk.
"The intent for this legislation is to clean up the current confusing law and allow law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right," Rep. Ron Magg, R-Lebanon, said. "The bulk of House Bill 48 addresses forbidden carry zones and makes changes that only apply to those legally permitted to carry a concealed weapon."
Lifting restrictions on where permit holders can carry firearms received extra attention following the car-knife attack on Ohio State University's campus that left 11 injured. On Nov. 28, Abdul Razak Ali Artan ran a car into a group of students and attacked them with a butcher knife before being shot-and-killed by a campus police officer.
"Crimes can happen anywhere, at any time. Gun free zones don't deter criminals, they create victims," said Amy Hunter, Ohio spokesperson for the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action said. "This bill awards military members who are already among America's most trusted citizens more freedom."
However, both initiatives from Ohio lawmakers were written months before the Islamic extremist-inspired assault on OSU's campus.
Ohio law currently permits people to carry concealed guns in school zones when they are picking up or dropping off a child. If passed, the bill would also allow firearms on campuses if they are left locked in the owner's car regardless of support from the school.
"My immediate concern was bringing guns into police stations. Letting the college to allow guns on campus is insane. It should not be allowed, period," Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, said. "If I'm a law enforcement officer and I get a call about an active shooter and I see three guys with guns, that would be dangerous."
The legislation would also deflate the punishment for carrying a concealed handgun without authorization from a felony to a minor misdemeanor if the offender can produce a concealed carry permit within 10 days. It's unclear if the permit would have to be date before the offense or not.
Ohioans must be 21-years-old, a state resident for 45 days and a resident of their county for at least 30 days to be eligible for a concealed carry permit. The law also states individuals that want to carry cannot be under indictment or convicted of a felony, drug trafficking or a misdemeanor violent offence.
Right now, 23 states allow universities to decided whether or not to allow concealed firearms on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.