Bill would allow Ohioans to carry guns without permit, training, background checks

By Randy Ludlow 
The Columbus Dispatch 

Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, lamented what he portrayed as the Republicans’ obsession with guns when issues such as health care and education demand legislative attention.

“It’s going the exact opposite direction of what most people want,” he said of the bill. “If more guns make more people safer, we would be the safest country in the world. Yet, our gun violence exceeds most every other country on this planet.”

Almost half of Ohio House Republicans are pushing for passage of a bill that would allow all law-abiding Ohioans to carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit — a measure that GOP Gov. Mike DeWine supports.

The so-called constitutional carry bill would permit anyone age 21 or over, who is not disqualified by federal law due to a felony conviction or other offense from obtaining a weapon, to carry a hidden gun — without obtaining a concealed-carry permit.

Meanwhile, about 70 gun advocates, largely from Ohio militia groups, milled about the plaza west of the Statehouse on Thursday carrying rifles and handguns in a “thank you” to Ohio lawmakers for passing legislation, which was signed by DeWine, to correct a flaw in a bill that could have classified many long guns as prohibited “dangerous ordnance.” The previously scheduled event was not connected to the bill introduced Wednesday.

A group of about a dozen gun opponents stood on the other side of a barricade and taunted the pro-gun group with chants amid a heavy presence of State Highway Patrol troopers.

One woman in the pro-gun group carried a Confederate flag along with her handgun, while others wore clothing with pro-gun messages. One man, with a handgun on each hip, wore a red sweatshirt that read “Black Guns Matter.” A woman carried a sign describing her gun as a “rape prevention kit.”

“We’re here to recognize they did their job, fixed this mistake and recognized the Constitution,” said one man wearing military fatigues and a vest with a handgun tucked in a pocket across his chest.

Currently, Ohioans can only carry a concealed weapon after obtaining a $67 permit from a county sheriff upon passing a criminal background check and completing eight hours of training by a certified instructor, including two hours of range time and live-fire training.

DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney said of the bill: “Gov. DeWine supports protecting Ohioans’ Second Amendment rights. We are reviewing the recently introduced proposal and look forward to following its movement through the legislative process.”

The legislation would not be restricted to handguns — it also would allow Ohioans to conceal and carry long guns, such as rifles and shotguns. Ohioans already are allowed to openly carry firearms without a permit.

House Bill 174 was introduced Wednesday by GOP Reps. Ron Hood of Ashville and Tom Brinkman of Cincinnati. The measure immediately attracted 27 co-sponsors from among the 61 majority House Republicans. Hood and Brinkman have introduced the same legislation for years without winning passage.

Chris Dorr, director of Ohio Gun Owners, posted a YouTube video featuring comments from Hood and Brinkman after the bill was filed in the clerk’s office.

“Gun owners are law-abiding citizens who follow the rules, and we need to let them be able to protect themselves. That’s what this is all about,” Brinkman said. Sixteen states now permit the carrying of weapons without permits.

Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, lamented what he portrayed as the Republicans’ obsession with guns when issues such as health care and education demand legislative attention.

“It’s going the exact opposite direction of what most people want,” he said of the bill. “If more guns make more people safer, we would be the safest country in the world. Yet, our gun violence exceeds most every other country on this planet.”

Dorr wrote in an email to supporters: “We already know there will be efforts by anti-gun Democrats and Rino-Republicans to block, stop and KILL Constitutional Carry. And as we saw last General Assembly, there’s always a lily-white coward willing to cut a deal and water down these pro-gun bills.”

The bill also would repeal a current requirement that concealed-carry owners notify police officers they are carrying a gun when stopped. It also would authorize the expungement of the misdemeanor offense of anyone previously convicted of failing to inform an officer that he or she had a gun.

The Republican state representatives co-sponsoring the constitutional carry bill are Niraj Antani of Miamisburg; Brian Baldridge of Winchester; John Becker of Union Township in Clermont County; Louis Blessing III of Cincinnati; Speaker Pro Tem Jim Butler of Oakwood; Sara Carruthers of Hamilton; Jon Cross of Kenton; Bill Dean of Xenia; Kris Jordan of Delaware; Candice Keller of Middletown; Kyle Koehler of Springfield, and George Lang of West Chester.

Also, Scott Lipps of Franklin; Susan Manchester of Waynesfield; Don Manning of New Middletown; Riordan McClain of Upper Sandusky; Derek Merrin of Monclova Township in Lucas County; Jena Powell of Arcanum; Craig Riedel of Defiance; Mark Romanchuk of Ontario near Mansfield; Tim Schaffer of Lancaster; former Speaker Ryan Smith of Bidwell; Todd Smith of Farmersville; Nino Vitale of Urbana; Scott Wiggam of Wooster; Shane Wilkin of Hillsboro; and Paul Zeltwanger of Mason.

rludlow@dispatch.com

@RandyLudlow