Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish has made it very clear that he opposes the “restaurant carry” bill sponsored by Senators Schaffer and Jones. He’s indicated that he will not convene another legislative session to allow Ohio’s lawmakers to vote on this bill.

While Speaker Budish may not support this bill himself, many legislators in both parties do support it. Representative Danny Bubp clearly demonstrated this bipartisan support through the signatures he received on a discharge petition (a petition to force a bill to come to a vote). It was the first such petition in the Ohio House in more than 10 years.

Despite a discharge petition with the required number of signatures and the subsequent House vote (57 to 39 in support of the petition), Speaker Budish will not allow the bill to come up for a vote.
I find it disturbing that this one man would intentionally deny a fair, free and open discussion on this critical legislation.

Here in Tennessee, we dealt with the same type of strong-arm tactics from former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, who blocked votes on self-defense bills for many years.

On April 2, 2009, I was legislated out of my right to protect my husband, Ben Goeser, who was shot and killed in my presence at a restaurant. My permitted gun was locked in my vehicle just outside the front door, because Tennessee state law told me I must.

My stalker put six bullets in my husband. This did not happen out in a dark parking lot. It occurred right in the middle of a restaurant, and was carried out by someone that was carrying a gun illegally. I will never know if I could have saved Ben, because I never had the chance. The law that was in place at the time (no guns allowed in restaurants that serve alcohol) did nothing to stop my husband’s murderer. But I, or another permit holder, might have had a chance.

That is what Ohio’s pending restaurant carry legislation would give citizens: a chance of survival if an armed attacker shows up while you are trying to have dinner with your family at a Logan’s, Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, or the like. It would give citizens a chance to defend themselves against an attacker while they are walking to their car at one of these establishments.

The Ohio restaurant carry bill allows the restaurant owner to decide whether or not they want to allow armed CHL holders. Private property owners have a choice. If they are dead-set against concealed carry, they can post a “no guns allowed” sign.

Of course, criminals do not care about signage or the law and will carry their illegal gun anyway. Criminals love easy prey. I pray no innocent citizens are faced with the kind of nightmare I have been through, while Speaker Budish feels warm and fuzzy in his commitment to “public safety.” You can see how legislators acting in the interest of “public safety” changed my life forever.

The media have done a particularly egregious job of reporting on this bill. Its intent, and content, have been misrepresented and sensationalized to the point of serious journalistic malpractice. They love to get people stirred up. Time and time again, news reports have led off with inflammatory – and wholly inaccurate – references to “guns in bars.”

Moreover, news reports often do not explain the details of the bill, nor do they bother to tell the public that the armed restaurant patron must pass an exhaustive background check, have their fingerprints taken, and complete formal training. Also typically omitted from media reports is the key point that armed restaurant patrons cannot consume any alcohol.

There are already over 40 states that allow licensees to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, and none of these states have repealed the law because of problems with legally armed customers.

I do not believe that the position of House Speaker is meant to be used to block legislation that clearly has the support of both Republicans and Democrats. This is a misuse of the position. The Speaker’s role is to assign committees and to handle procedural issues on the floor, not to make personal decisions about what rights will be granted or denied to the state’s citizens.

If I were one of the legislators who signed the discharge petition, I would be furious on behalf of my constituents.

I have testified twice before the Ohio legislature in favor of this bill, which would give law-abiding citizens the ability to stop the unthinkable. Take it from someone who has lived through the nightmare: The police will not be there in enough time to save you. They will be there in just enough time to put up the crime scene tape and take pictures of your loved one. A few weeks later you are allowed to go to the police station “property room” and pick up your loved one’s wedding ring and blood-splattered watch in an evidence bag.

Mr. Speaker, LET THEM VOTE.

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