Gun bill awaits committee assignment Week Of 1/10/2022

Larry Limpf

A bill pending in the Ohio legislature will, according to its backers, further the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. But to its opponents, Senate Bill 215 is a threat to public safety.
The bill passed in the Senate last month and was introduced in the House of Representatives where it awaits a committee assignment.
The bill will allow law-abiding adults to carry a concealed handgun without obtaining a permit in areas where concealed carry is permitted.
Senator Theresa Gavarone, R-Huron, voted in favor of the bill, saying it will provide parity for legal gun owners.
“It is nonsense that you can walk down the street with a gun holstered on your hip in Northwood, Huron, Wauseon or any of the other communities in my district, but the moment it begins to rain and you put a jacket on over your gun, you’re considered a criminal if you don’t have a government-approved license,” Gavarone said. “I am proud to co-sponsor Senate Bill 215 and appreciate the opportunity to support furthering the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Ohioans.”
Senator Teresa Fedor, D- Toledo, criticized the bill, saying it would take Ohio in the opposite direction of public safety and “I fear more innocent people will die, including children.”
She cited a recent poll finding that about 60 percent of Ohio voters oppose any bills that allow for a concealed weapon without a license.
In his sponsor testimony to the Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee, Senator Terry Johnson, R – McDermott, said the bill, also called a Constitutional Carry bill, would establish permit-less carry for qualifying adults in Ohio wherever carry is currently permitted. Adults are defined as those who are 21 years old and not legally prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm.
“Senate Bill 215 also creates a process for a pretrial civil immunity hearing if a person used force against another in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s property,” his testimony says. “If the pretrial immunity hearing is ruled in favor of the defendant, that person claims immunity from liability for injury, death, or loss to another based on self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s property.”
In addition, the bill eliminates the requirements for a person carrying a concealed firearm to disclose that possession to a law enforcement officer in the case of a traffic stop. It also eliminates the requirement for a concealed handgun licensee to carry their license while carrying a firearm.
Michael Weinman, a retired Columbus police officer and now director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, told the committee the bill creates a threat to officer safety.
“As I have said in the past, the (concealed carry) license was negotiated over the course of multiple interested party meetings with a series of compromises that had a unanimous agreement,” he said. “Under SB 215, anyone 21 and older who doesn’t have any prohibitions under state and federal law may carry a concealed handgun. They can do this without training or background checks and avoid any revocations or suspensions of a license from an issuing sheriff. They also get around the renewal background check.”
He said 2,047 licenses were suspended or revoked by county sheriffs in 2020 and 1,777 licenses were denied.
“These numbers will drop precipitously if SB 215 should pass,” he said.
Rob Knisley, political director for Ohio Gun Owners, told the committee his organization has been pushing for a bill like SB 215 for years.
“Senate Bill 215 does not eliminate the current licensing system, it simply makes it optional for those who still wish for one for purposes of reciprocity (with other states),” he said. “The bill simply allows Ohioans who are otherwise not prohibited from owning or carrying weapons and recognizes their right to ‘keep and bear arms’ by taking their handgun, that they can already carry openly, and putting a coat over it without having to beg for government permission first or become a felon for doing so.
“It makes it legal for lawful people to carry handguns in vehicles without being forced to do what no criminal does, which is either disarm or make sure their thug friends carefully stow away their guns.”
He said the bill’s provision for granting a pre-trial immunity hearing for someone who’s used a firearm in self defense or defending another is an improvement to Ohio’s self-defense law.


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