Ohio police union: Loosening concealed gun laws could endanger officers

Supporters of Ohio Senate Bill 215 dispute claims of increased violence or officer danger.

The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police opposes a bill to loosen requirements for carrying concealed handguns, saying it would lead to more officers getting shot.

But supporters of the bill dispute those claims as fear mongering.

Substitute Senate Bill 215, sponsored by state Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, has three basic provisions:

• A person at least 21 years old who is otherwise legally allowed to have a gun can carry it concealed without a permit, without having to take the now-required eight hours of gun safety training.

• Holders of a current concealed-carry permit no longer have to carry that license with them.

• If stopped by police, a person with a concealed weapon no longer has to tell officers about it unless they’re specifically asked.

Concealed carry licenses will still be available for those who want them, Johnson has said.

SB 215 passed the Ohio Senate in December and is now working it’s way through the Ohio House.

Michael Weinman, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, told the House Government Oversight Committee on Thursday that the FOP opposes the bill. It would make police jobs harder by removing the requirement to carry documentation, and prevent officers from holding and patting down someone for a firearm, he said.

Weinman predicted it would lead to more police officers getting shot.

Rob Sexton, legislative affairs director for Buckeye Firearms Association, testified earlier this month in support of the legislation. He disputed that allowing so-called constitutional carry without a permit would lead to an increase in violence or danger for officers.

“This bill would remove many burdens on law-abiding gun owners, which do nothing to reduce crime or save lives,” he said.

A similar bill, House Bill 227, passed the House in November.

Medical marijuana

A bill to expand Ohio’s medical marijuana operations and eligibility got its first House committee hearing Thursday. It passed the Senate in December.

Senate Bill 261, sponsored by state Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, is an update to the medical marijuana bill he sponsored five years ago.

It would add to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana, and the ways in which it can be taken. Huffman said it still prohibits smoking the drug.

It also increases the authorized growing space in hopes of reducing prices. Huffman said it also would allow up to one dispensary per 1,000 approved medical marijuana patients in the state; that’s six times the current number.

Huffman said the Senate didn’t amend his bill, but he’s prepared to make some changes, such as allowing drive-through and curbside marijuana pickup for the disabled.

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