Republicans in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly on Wednesday passed legislation removing licensing, training and background check requirements for carrying a concealed weapon.
Senate Bill 215 now goes to GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who can sign it or veto the legislation.
It passed 57 to 35 in the House on Wednesday, mostly along party lines. The Senate passed it in a party-line vote hours later.
If the law is signed into law, all Ohioans 21 and older would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon, as long as they are legally permitted to possess it in the first place.
Legislation — often known as “unlicensed carry” or “constitutional carry” — is a long-standing goal of the gun lobby. Its opponents include Democrats, organizations representing police officers, anti-gun violence activists and public health researchers, the latter of whom have linked the policy to increases in violent crime.
Wednesday’s votes were somewhat expected — both houses have already passed various versions of a no-permit postponement bill this legislative session.
DeWine, however, refused to state his position on the proposal for months. He has drawn scorn from gun advocates in the past for championing a modest gun control package in the wake of a 2019 Dayton mass shooting. Instead, he signed a bill “Hold Your Ground” in 2020, removing the requirement to first seek retreat from a perceived attack before responding with lethal force. He also privately told the Buckeye Firearms Association, a firearms lobby organization, that he would sign legislation on a candidate questionnaire in 2018.
“We are reviewing the bill, but I would note that Governor DeWine has long supported the Second Amendment right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said in a statement. a press release on Wednesday evening.
Rep. Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, said in a floor speech that the legislation is a way to enshrine the right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution and protect gun owners from “the intrusive government abuse”. He said that while Ohioans are always encouraged to undergo training before wearing, he trusts them enough to remove the requirement.
Senator Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the bill “makes it easier for you to take advantage of your Second Amendment rights,” especially in the wake of “the anarchy ” in the country today.
As they have done in the past, House Democrats have tried to amend the bill’s language by closing a loophole that allows buyers at gun shows to bypass background checks. ; another creating a legal mechanism for families and law enforcement to ask judges to temporarily seize weapons from people in mental health crisis; and a third requiring gun dealers to distribute a one-page pamphlet at the point of sale outlining Ohio’s gun laws.
All three failed largely along party lines.
Ohio has steadily relaxed its gun laws over the past 20 years. The state created the concealed carry program in 2004, originally requiring 12 hours of training. It has since passed a preemption law preventing cities from enacting tougher gun policies than the state. In 2020, DeWine signed the “stand your ground” bill.
“Once again, the Republican supermajority has passed dangerous unlicensed transportation legislation that puts our communities at even greater risk of gun violence than ever before,” House Minority Leader Allison Russo said. , D-Upper Arlington. “This goes completely against the people of Ohio who have repeatedly called for common sense gun safety legislation, not extreme bills that endanger the lives of our children and our families.”
Gun bills, especially in the run-up to elections, are regularly introduced in different shapes and sizes. Rep. Joe Miller, D-Amherst, who said he owns multiple firearms, said carrying without a license was a bad idea. He also wondered why so many gun bills got so many votes.
“These are more political gun bills,” he said. “This is going too far.”
At least 21 states allow the carrying of concealed firearms without a license, according to a tally by the US Concealed Carry Association. Several states, including Iowa, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming, passed such laws last year.
The move would come as data shows 2021 surpassed 2020 for the highest number of gun deaths ever recorded in Ohio, according to state health department data. Data shows that firearm deaths in Ohio increased by 66% between 2007 and 2021.
Public health researchers and gun violence researchers are making connections between relaxed gun policies and homicide and other rates. For example, researchers at the American Journal for Public Health found that states with unlicensed carry laws were associated with an 11% increase in handgun homicide rates. The National Bureau of Economic Researchers found that states experienced approximately 14% higher rates of violent crime after adopting a new concealed carry permit system similar to Ohio’s.
Gun advocates — including Wilkin in his speech on the floor and a gun lobbyist Buckeye in the past — cite 2018 research published by the American College of Surgeons that identified no statistical association between guns. States relaxing their gun laws and homicide or violent crime rates. (ACS, however, advocates limiting gun sales to people with mental illnesses, increasing penalties for illegal gun sales, and funding public health research on guns.)
In a statement, the Alliance of Mayors of Ohio called the bill “a dangerous step in the wrong direction” and said cities would bear the brunt of it.
“Furthermore, because our right to local control has been erased by a previously passed state law prohibiting cities from regulating gun laws, local communities will not have the ability to protect themselves,” he said. the Alliance said in a statement.
Doug Rogers, a retired attorney and volunteer with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action, appeared before lawmakers to repeatedly urge them to vote against the bill. On Wednesday, he called on DeWine to veto it.
“This bill should not have gone this far. Law enforcement officials agree – getting rid of our permit system will put our communities at risk,” he said. “Governor DeWine should stand with law enforcement and public safety advocates and veto SB 215.”
In an alert to followers, the Buckeye Firearms Association called the vote “historic” and said no unlicensed transportation bill had ever gone this far in Ohio.
“Twenty-one more states have some form of unlicensed transportation, and Ohio is poised to become number 22,” the alert reads. “Stay tuned”
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