House committee passes bill to allow concealed carrying of weapons without training

An Ohio House committee on Thursday passed a law that would allow most Ohioans aged 21 and over to legally carry a concealed firearm.

Current law allows Ohio residents to carry concealed weapons after completing eight hours of training and submitting a request to their county sheriff, who conducts a background check. House Bill 227, if passed, would remove the training and enforcement requirements for anyone of full age and not prohibited from carrying a weapon by state or federal law.

In each of the past six years, an average of 3,900 concealed transport permits have been suspended, revoked or denied, according to data from the Ohio attorney general.

The legislation would also remove the obligation of Ohioans under current law to inform police officers that they are carrying a gun if they are stopped in traffic. HB 227 only asks them to inform weapon officers if asked.

Enacting “unlicensed porting,” as the legislation is commonly referred to, would promote a steady march to relax Ohio’s gun laws. The Ohio Concealed Carrying Program started in 2004 and at the time required 12 hours of training. In 2006, lawmakers passed a bill preventing cities from passing gun control laws that are more stringent than those of the state as a whole. Republicans passed a “stand up to your feet” bill last year that removes the legal requirement to first seek to withdraw from a confrontation before responding with lethal force.

The push towards unlicensed porterage comes as gun violence reaches record levels. In 2021 so far, 694 people have been killed and nearly 1,600 have been injured in shootings in Ohio, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks media reports of the shootings in the United States.

The legislation was passed without much fanfare by the Ohio House Government Oversight Committee. House Majority Leader Bill Seitz R-Green Twp. Said he was convinced of the need to pass the legislation by gun lobbyists from the National Rifle Association and Buckeye Firearms Association.

Representative Tim Ginter, a Republican from Salem who also works as an ordained minister, mentioned that the legislation clarifies that people can carry concealed weapons in a place of worship, as do many of his parishioners.

“If you attend the church that I pastor, just know that there are probably a lot of people with handguns,” he said.

House Democrats on the committee opposed the legislation. They tried, unsuccessfully, to amend two anti-gun violence provisions in the bill. One would require background checks to purchase guns at gun shows and from private sellers. Another would allow judges, at the request of the family or the police, to temporarily seize the weapons of people in mental health crisis.

Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson, the leading Democrat on the committee, called the legislation “shortsighted” and divisive.

“This extreme legislation does not make Ohio more favorable to firearms,” ​​she said. “Instead, it makes it a lot less safe for all of us, including gun owners.”

The gun lobby has been pushing for unlicensed porting in Ohio for at least 10 to 15 years, according to lead Buckeye Firearms Association lobbyist Rob Sexton. In an interview, he framed the issue around the constitutional right to bear arms and downplayed the existence of a relationship between relaxed gun laws and gun violence.

“The law has been liberalized over the past 15 years in an effort to fully achieve what the Constitution says, and we still have not seen the corresponding bad behavior on the part of regular and respectful gun owners. laws, ”he said. “So no, I don’t believe this change will happen either.”

In Ohio, the state Supreme Court held that the constitutional right to bear arms does not guarantee the right to carry a concealed weapon.

“There is no constitutional right to carry concealed weapons,” Judge Paul Pfeifer wrote in a 2003 majority opinion.

The United States Supreme Court is also due to hear oral arguments on November 3 on the constitutionality of a New York law restricting concealed carrying in the state.

Richelle O’Connor, an activist for Moms Demand Action, said the results of the policy are simple: more people with guns they are not trained to use equates to more gun violence.

“If more weapons protected us, then we would be the safest country in the industrialized country, and we are not,” she said.

After the hearing, Moms Demand Action released a press release citing two studies linking unlicensed portering laws to the increase in violent crime. A 2018 discussion paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research by researchers at Stanford and Columbia Universities found that states with unlicensed porterage laws experience violent crime rates about 15% higher 10 years after adoption that they would not have done otherwise. Other research published in the American Journal for Public Health found that unlicensed carrying laws were associated with an 11% increase in handgun homicide rates.

Twenty-one states allow residents (residents of North Dakota only) to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, according to a tally from the US Concealed Carry Association. This includes the neighboring states of West Virginia and Kentucky.

Permit-free transportation bills are advancing in other Conservative-controlled state houses in the United States, including Wisconsin and Alabama, and were recently passed in Tennessee and Texas.

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