COLUMBUS, Ohio — Carrying a concealed weapon should not require law-abiding Ohioans to leap through bureaucratic hoops and expose them to a criminal conviction for exercising their “God-given right,” say gun-rights supporters.
State Reps. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, and Tom Brinkman, R-Cincinnati, appeared before the House Federalism Committee on Wednesday morning to present their case for House Bill 174.
The measure would allow anyone age 21 or older, who is not prohibited by federal law from purchasing a handgun due to a felony conviction or other disqualifying factors, to carry a hidden gun without obtaining training or a permit.
It also would permit Ohioans to legally carry other weapons, such as knifes, for self-defense.
Ohio law now requires those who want to legally carry a hidden handgun to obtain a $67 permit from a county sheriff, pass a criminal background check and complete eight hours of training by a certified instructor. Ohioans also can openly carry firearms without a permit.
Hood said he and other supporters of the bill, which include nearly half of the majority House Republicans, want to expand the ability of Ohioans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by carrying guns for self-defense. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine also supports the measure.
The act of putting on a coat or jacket to conceal a handgun “should not strip Ohioans their God-given rights under the U.S. Constitution,” said Hood, who introduced his first “constitutional carry” bill in 1995.
Hood recited a litany of deadly mass shootings in which the killers had legally obtained their guns. “Regulations and restrictions are not stopping violent crimes and act as a barrier to law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Brinkman called for Ohio to join 16 other “carry at-will” states, saying, “It is time for Ohio to take the next step in defending the Second Amendment.”
The measure also would repeal the current law that concealed-carry permit holders notify police officers they are carrying a gun during any encounters with police.
Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent, D-Columbus, a committee member, expressed concern that the proposed law could encourage more African American men to carry handguns in crime-prone areas, increasing the possibility they could be shot by police officers during an encounter.
Rep. Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, questioned if expanding the number of Ohioans who carry guns would escalate the number of shootings not in self defense because a person was “angry with access” to a weapon.
Hood and Brinkman delivered their sponsor testimony in support of the bill before a couple of dozen opponents of their bill — members of the red t-shirt wearing group Moms Demand Action.
Members of the group, which fear a law allowing guns to be carried without permit and training would increase gun violence, then scattered to lawmakers’ offices to lobby them to oppose the measure.
The bill would not affect the issuance of Ohio’s concealed-carry permits since gun owners need the document to legally carry their guns in other states honoring Ohio permits.