Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has been stumping for his Ohio STRONG package of gun control legislation for close to a year now, but most Republican lawmakers in control of the statehouse in Columbus have shown little interest in passing the governor’s wish list.
Instead, a group of GOP House members are looking at expanding the Second Amendment rights of residents in the state, including expanding the locations where folks can lawfully carry, lowering the age to purchase handguns to 18, and expanding “Stand Your Ground” protections in state law.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has a pearl-clutching analysis of the proposals, complete with scare quotes from a longtime gun control activist in the state.
“The combination of all of these things is really frightening because it’s almost an obsession with the access to guns,” said Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
The proposals stand in stark contrast to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s pleas to address gun violence. DeWine has repeatedly asked lawmakers to increase penalties for people who provide guns to others prohibited from having them.
Instead, changes to House Bill 248 would make it more difficult to prosecute someone who sells, lends or gives a firearm to someone who is intoxicated or banned from having a gun. The seller would have to “knowingly” provide the gun rather than “recklessly,” the requirement under current law.
Another hotly contested concept – stand your ground – makes an appearance in proposed changes. With an amendment, the bill would eliminate a duty to retreat before firing in self-defense while at a business.
Current law only allows Ohioans to “stand their ground” at their residences or vehicles. GOP lawmakers, in another bill, recently proposed eliminating a duty to retreat before firing during a riot.
The amendments would allow concealed guns in more places, including colleges and universities, places of worship and state property. Other locations that currently ban concealed guns, such as police stations and airport terminals, could allow them if the governing bodies of those locations approve the change.
In addition to the proposed changes laid out by the Enquirer, the amendments that are set to be added to HB 248 would remove current prohibitions on lawful concealed carry in an establishment that serves alcohol (though the carrier would still violate state law if they were under the influence), allow 18-year olds to obtain a concealed carry license (and allow those with a CCW to purchase handguns at age 18), along with several other measures aimed at strengthening and securing the right to keep and bear arms.
- Eliminate the requirement that concealed weapons licensees carry their license with them. Any valid identification could be used instead.
- Eliminate a requirement that concealed handgun license holders “promptly” inform police that they have a gun. Licensees would still need to inform police if they have a gun in the vehicle.
- Prohibit schools and universities from penalizing employees or students who carry a concealed weapon legally.
- Specify that state and federal lawmakers can regulate guns – not city and other local officials.
- Require police to auction unclaimed or forfeited firearms rather than destroy them.
- Would allow the manufacture, sale and possession of brass knuckles, cestus, billy, blackjack, sandbag, switchblade knife, springblade knife, gravity knife or similar weapon.
Gun control advocates were hoping to make enough gains during the elections to make it impossible for pro-2A legislators to advance their agenda. Instead, Republicans expanded their majorities in the House and maintained their majority in the state Senate, which bodes well for the passage of HB 248.
The bill was originally scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, but the hearing itself was pushed back. Still, lawmakers are hoping to have the amended bill out of the House before Thanksgiving, so Ohio gun owners should be contacting their state representatives now to show their support for the legislation.