COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bit more than two years ago, Gov. Mike DeWine asked state lawmakers to pass a bill to strengthen Ohio's gun laws, including requiring background checks for nearly all gun purchases. Now, a gun bill that was voted to move to a final vote in the state House would just about do the opposite.
Ohio's current conceal carry law requires additional training, background check and a permit for gun owners. Senate Bill 215 would eliminate all of that to carry a firearm in Ohio.
S.B. No. 215 would allow for anyone 21 and older, who is legally allowed to own a gun, to conceal carry. A permit to carry would no longer be required, nor the mandatory eight hours of training or required background checks.
As far as gun owners who want to permitless carry but want training on how to handle a firearm, training will still be available from various gun clubs and ranges across the state if a person chooses. Most places that currently offer classes to obtain a concealed carry permit also offer general gun safety courses, which are recommended for anyone who handles or carries a firearm.
Anyone who still wishes to carry in the dozens of other states that Ohio has a reciprocity agreement with would still need to hold a permit. The conceal carry permits aren't being eliminated, Ohioans just won't be required to have one unless they want to carry in other states.
What does reciprocity carry mean?
According to the Ohio Attorney General's Office, "Ohio law gives the Attorney General the right to negotiate concealed carry handgun reciprocity agreements with other states. Under such agreements, Ohio and other states agree to respect each other's concealed carry laws and recognize each other's permit holders."
Individuals who seek to obtain a carry permit for reciprocity will still be required to undergo background checks and eight hours of training.
CLICK HERE to see what states have reciprocity agreements with Ohio that allow permit holders to carry in other states.
The bill's hearings have had people in attendance to support, like different firearm associations and community members. But there have been far more opponents, such as numerous advocacy groups, police coalitions, law enforcement, legal experts and more.
“The [Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio] strongly opposes substitute Senate Bill 215,” Director of Government Affairs for the FOP and retired Columbus police officer Michael S. Weinman said. “We feel the changes in the bill create a threat for officer safety.”
Weinman testified on behalf of more than 24,000 active or retired members of the FOP.
“The bill eliminates the need for a concealed carry license, modifies the notification by licensee to an officer that they are armed, removes a requirement or carry documentation for both licensee and military personnel, and this allows an officer from detaining anyone with a firearm,” he said. “They can do this without training or background checks and avoid any revocation or suspension of a license from an issuing sheriff. They also get around the renewal background check.”
If the bill is signed, individuals would no longer need to inform police that they have a gun on them, unless directly asked. It puts the duty on the officer who pulls someone over to make sure the person is honest with them about having a gun.
In previous hearings, supporters have said that with an increase in crime in the state, more and more people want to protect themselves and their families.
“In some cases, they may not have time to go get a permit, or go through the classes or the training,” said Rob Sexton of the Buckeye Firearm Association.
Anti-gun advocates say the bill's removal of conceal carry training is only going to cause more deaths from uninformed gun owners. Bill supporters say mandated training doesn't actually matter.
“The idea that the government required eight hours, I think most firearms owners much exceeded that,” Sexton said, adding that gun owners who conceal carry are not the problem, but rather criminals who access guns no matter what.
“The four states that have the strongest gun laws: New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and Massachusetts, have one-quarter of the death rate that Ohio has,” a gun control supporter said, quoting a study by the Giffords Law Center. “Gun laws do work to save lives, well, good gun laws.”
The governor's team told News 5 that DeWine is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and he will review the bill. This bill passed through the committee Tuesday and will now be sent to the house floor for a final vote.
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