Ohio gun law that takes effect today continues state loosening of gun restrictions

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Ohio gun law that takes effect today continues state loosening of gun restrictions

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Students hold dummy guns in a basic “First Shots” introductory firearms course taught by Jim Kokaly, a NRA certified instructor, on Jan. 24, 2013, at Sim Trainer in Moraine. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

The state of Ohio’s newest gun law takes effect Tuesday, March 21. 

Known as Senate Bill 199, the law overrules private business owners’ ability to ban guns on their property as long as person is a CCW license holder and locks the weapon — handguns only in this case — in his or her personal vehicle.

The law does not set requirements for how the weapon is stored except that the vehicle must be locked.

Since state lawmakers first made it legal to carry concealed weapons in 2004, the law has repeatedly been broadened in Ohio, with a number of changes made just in the last couple of years.

In 2006, local governments were banned from enacting laws regulating firearms or ammunition.

In 2008, the so-called “castle doctrine” law was approved, presuming that a person using lethal force against someone unlawfully entering their home or vehicle is acting in self-defense.

Members of the armed services or National Guard who are between the ages of 18 and 21 were allowed to purchase or possess handguns as long as they had handgun training beginning in 2009.

And the years 2011 and 2012 saw multiple changes. Those with concealed-carry weapons licenses (CCW) were permitted to bring handguns into bars and restaurants as long as the person with the gun doesn’t drink alcohol. They were allowed to keep loaded handguns in cars without the gun being in a holster, case or locked container. Restrictions were lifted on the purchase and possession of firearms by people with certain criminal convictions. CCW reciprocity was expanded with other states. And firearms were allowed in a locked vehicle at the State Underground Parking Garage at the State Capitol or the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts in Columbus.

In 2014, the used of sound suppressors — commonly known as silencers — were approved for hunting. Also, the number of hours of training required to obtain a CCW license was reduced from 12 hours to eight.

Students hold dummy guns in a basic “First Shots” introductory firearms course taught by Jim Kokaly, a NRA certified instructor, on Jan. 24, 2013, at Sim Trainer in Moraine. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF Chris Stewart/Staff Writer

The newest law

SB 199 also provides immunity to the business or property owner and the employer in any lawsuit filed for injury or death caused by a person who stores a firearm or ammunition in a personal vehicle unless the “business or person intentionally solicited or procured the other person’s injurious actions,” according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

Here are some of the other provisions of SB 199:

  • Day care centers, which had been prohibited from allowing guns on their property, now can now choose to allow guns inside their buildings.
  • Government officials and university and college boards of trustees also can vote to allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons. State law had already widened the CCW rights to include government parking lots.
  • Senate Bill 199 also makes it legal for active duty members of the U.S. armed forces to carry a concealed handgun without getting a state permit as long as the person is carrying a valid military ID and proof of specific firearms training.
  • Federal property — such as the U.S. Postal Service or military installations such as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — is generally not covered by the law.

The final bill included changes in a House bill sponsored by then-State Rep. Ron Maag, R-Salem Twp. Maag said his bill was more concerned with loosening CCW rules in school zones, but he does not have a problem with allowing employees to bring guns to work and leave them in their cars.

“I don’t think too many employees will have too many problems with it,” Maag said.

But the drumbeat of gun laws — all designed to loosen restrictions — has angered gun control advocates, who say the legislation has done nothing to make communities safer.

“There are a number of factors that influence whether or not gun violence occurs. The biggest one is whether or not there is a gun around,” said Jennifer Thorne, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. “When we have increased access to these kinds of deadly weapons there is an increased chance for deadly events to happen.”

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