(The Center Square) – Carrying a concealed handgun without a license in Ohio became a step closer to reality when a House committee passed what the chairman called the most significant Second Amendment bill to advance through the Legislature in years.
The House Government Oversight Committee passed House Bill 227 on a party-line vote, 8-4, on Thursday. It was crafted with the help of the National Rifle Association and the Buckeye Firearm Association. Its next step would be a full House vote.
“This bill supports the constitutional rights and freedoms of law-abiding Ohioans,” House Government Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, said. “Criminals aren’t going to follow the law. I proudly stand in support of ensuring law-abiding Ohioans are able to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
HB 227 would make a concealed handgun license optional, allowing those who wish to have a gun license to get one, but anyone age 21 or older can carry a gun as long as they are allowed by law.
The bill also would remove Ohio’s “duty to inform” law, which requires a person encountering law enforcement to promptly notify an officer whether they are carrying. Instead, a person carrying must notify an officer only if asked.
The League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, the Catholic Conference of Ohio and parent groups all opposed the bill.
“If Republicans truly want to keep our kids and communities safe, they’d pass commonsense gun safety reforms, not divisive, short-sighted legislation to eliminate the things that are already working like permits and training,” Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo, said. “This extreme legislation doesn’t make Ohio any more gun friendly. Instead, it makes it a lot less safe for all of us, including gun owners.
“Today was another bad day for democracy, with no live testimony and not even having written testimony available. This bill had no time for real discussion, debate or consideration. The authors of our constitution are shaking their heads wondering what we’re doing,” Hicks-Hudson said.
The bill also would not require churches to identify as what proponents call “soft targets” by posting a “no concealed carry” sign and leaves the decision of who can carry up to specific churches.
Similar legislation, Senate Bill 215, is in the Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee. It’s had two hearings.
“I’ve been asked why Ohio would no longer require training or permits in order to carry a concealed firearm,” Wilkin said. “My answer is I respect the constitutional rights of Ohioans, and I trust them to handle firearms safely and responsibly. The fact is, most gun owners are trained, skilled and knowledgeable about firearms.”