House, Senate still at odds over gun law

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2003

Ohioans who want to legally carry a concealed firearm will have to wait a bit longer for the right to do so.

A meeting planned for lawmakers to work out differences over proposals to allow concealed weapons was canceled last week because the Senate did not appoint any members to the committee.

On Thursday night, the House

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rejected Senate changes to the bill, the first version supported by Gov. Bob Taft after 4 1/2 years of opposition. Senate President Doug White was too busy working on the $48.8 billion budget bill Thursday to consider appointments to the committee, spokeswoman Maggie Mitchell said. The Senate feels that, because Taft had agreed to support its version of the bill, ''we don't feel we need a conference committee,'' Mitchell said.

Neither the House nor the Senate ruled out a meeting of the committee later.

Changes made by the Senate led the State Highway Patrol to drop its opposition to the bill. That was one condition Taft made for his support, which he announced Tuesday.

The Senate version would allow loaded guns in cars if they were in plain sight or locked in storage. It also would allow a person without a permit to carry a hidden gun in a car under the same conditions, but only if the person possessed a protective order in a case of domestic violence or another threat-related crime.

The House wanted to expand the exception to include people who feel they need to carry guns because of the nature of their jobs.

"The patrol has dropped its opposition, but we have not jumped to the other side. We're somewhat neutral now, where before, we were opposed to the idea," Ohio State High Patrol Ironton Post Commander, Lt. Carl Roark said. "We fought to get things in the bill that we wanted."

Ironton Chiropractor, Dr. Jim Milleson, who is also a National Rifle Association firearms instructor, said the requirement that guns would have to be locked away in a container in a car concerns him. He said his concern is that women who believe they need to carry a gun to protect themselves from abusive husbands may not be able to defend themselves quickly enough if that firearm were locked away at a time when they were attacked.

"When carrying a gun in a car, it (the container provision) nullifies the purpose of having the gun for self-defense," Milleson said.

The House also objected to a requirement for guns to be in locked storage if a child under 18 was in the vehicle. House Speaker Larry Householder, a Glenford Republican, said he would consider the provision if the age was lowered to 16.

Milleson said he was pleased to see the the carry concealed weapons proposal inch closer top reality. He said he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Florida, and is disappointed that his Florida permit is honored in neighboring states but not Ohio.

"I believe that Ohio is one of the few states left not to have a carry concealed weapons law in direct disagreement with federal and state constitutions. I do support such a law. It's time Ohio moves into the 21st century."