Ohioans could carry concealed firearms without a permit if a bill introduced in the Statehouse Tuesday becomes law.
The state would join Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Vermont and Wyoming with “constitutional carry,” the term used by proponents of nearly unrestricted gun laws.
The proposed law would allow anyone 21 or older to carry any firearm not banned by state or federal law without a permit. The bill would also prohibit law enforcement from searching and detaining otherwise law-abiding citizens based solely on the possession of a firearm.
Current conceal carry law requires an applicant to have eight hours of firearm training and obtain a permit from a county sheriff. The training requirement was reduced from 12 hours just last month as conservative state lawmakers push to further relax gun laws.
Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp., one of the bill’s 20 co-sponsors, said this effort is to allow citizens full exercise of Second Amendment.
“There’s been a movement over decade .. of allowing more and more open gun laws and I think that’s because there’s a recognition that lawful users of firearms use them to defend themselves,” Antani said.
Other local lawmakers supporting the bill include Reps. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton; Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield; Nino Vitale, R-Urbana; Jim Buchy, R-Greenville; Margaret Conditt, R-Liberty Twp.; Paul Zeltwangar, R-Mason; and Ron Maag, R-Lebanon.
The measure is just the next step in a long line of bills that would expand the presence of hidden, loaded weapons, said Jennifer Thorne, executive director, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
Horne said removing the permitting and training requirements for concealed weapons will put more of the public safety at risk. She said the representatives are taking gun laws in the wrong direction.
“We believe our legislature could do better for Ohio by focusing on common sense regulations such as background checks for all gun sales, and laws that would prevent children from accessing these kinds of weapons.”
Landlords of residential properties would no longer be able to prohibit tenants from possessing firearms under the proposed law, Antani said.
For those of us who believe in constitutional carry, we think that’s wrong,” Antani said. “If you are a tenant you should be able to carry a firearm on those premises and have it in your home in order to protect yourself.”
Thorne said there are examples of ordinarily balanced people with guns who run into a “stresser” that ends tragically with a shooting like a former police officer in Florida charged with second degree murder who allegedly shot a man dead in a popcorn-throwing, texting dispute.
“We have to remember that everyone carrying a gun is a ‘good guy’ right up until the time they aren’t,” she said.
More than 110,000 Ohioans had a license to carry a concealed gun last year, according to and Ohio Attorney General’s Office report. The number of new 2014 applications, 58,066, was a decline from 2013 when new applications spiked at 96,972.
The same law that trimmed the firearms training requirement in March also added reciprocity agreements with five additional states, bringing to 28 the number of other states where a valid Ohio permit holder can legally carry a concealed weapon.