• 72°

Concealed weapon law slated for vote

COLUMBUS – A bill that would allow most Ohioans to carry a concealed weapons has been scheduled for a vote today in the House Civil & Commercial Law Committee.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

COLUMBUS – A bill that would allow most Ohioans to carry a concealed weapons has been scheduled for a vote today in the House Civil & Commercial Law Committee.

This is the first time in seven years that either legislative chamber will go on the record on the issue. Once it clears the committee, it likely will go for a vote by the full House.

But it may not be all smooth sailing. If the bill clears the House, its future looks cloudy.

Senate President Richard Finan felt his chamber got burned by the House in 1995, when the Senate passed a concealed-weapons bill, but it never moved out of a House committee under then-Speaker Jo Ann Davidson.

The current speaker, Larry Householder, supports the idea of allowing Ohioans to carry concealed weapons and has said that he would allow a vote on a bill that had broad support in his Republican caucus.

Should the bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. James Aslanides of Coshocton, make it through the Senate it still faces opposition from Gov. Bob Taft, who won’t sign a bill that is opposed by major law enforcement groups, such as the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, the State Highway Patrol and the state’s biggest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police. During his 1998 campaign, he said he would sign a bill police groups would support – and all of the police organizations oppose the bill.

Supporters say law-abiding Ohioans should be allowed to carry the guns they legally own. Opponents say the practice will lead to an increase in shootings – both accidental and intentional.

Should the bill become law, Ohioans would be allowed to carry concealed weapons after passing a background check conducted through a statewide police computer system and completing safety training.

The bill will be amended before Wednesday’s scheduled vote, committee Chairman John Willamowski, a Lima Republican, said.

One amendment would change the training portion of the bill to reflect programs offered by the National Rifle Association. The training includes classroom study, firing range time and instruction in the legal aspects of carrying a weapon.

The other amendment would allow applicants for permits to volunteer to be fingerprinted. Currently, applicants must submit to fingerprinting only if they continue the process after failing a criminal check.

If the bill makes its way through the House and Senate, then it could die on the Governor’s desk. In the spring, a message by Gov. Bob Taft was posted on his web site (www.state.oh.us/gov/) where he stated: "Throughout my public service career, I have been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants. Equally, I believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to keep firearms in their homes. People should also continue to have the opportunity to hunt, target shoot, collect and participate in other, similar activities associated with our state’s long history of legitimate uses of firearms.

"As I have repeatedly stated, I would allow a concealed carry permitting bill that passes the state legislature to become law only if the bill contains rigorous training and background check requirements and is acceptable to Ohio’s law enforcement groups and police organizations.

"The purpose of such legislation should be to enhance public safety, and if those who are responsible for preserving law and order are opposed to it, their position warrants serious consideration."

As of now, Ohio is only one of six states that prohibits citizens to carry a firearm. Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska all have bans on concealed firearms.