Ohio Republican Introduces Constitutional Carry Bill

Ohio Republican Introduces Constitutional Carry Bill
(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

With five states adopting Constitutional Carry this year, there’s no doubt that the movement has a lot of grassroots support, and now gun owners in the Buckeye State are hoping to turn Ohio into the 22nd Constitutional Carry jurisdiction in the nation. A new permitless carry bill was introduced in the state legislature just a few days ago, and the Buckeye Firearms Association is already putting its weight behind the measure.

On August 5, 2021, Senator Terry Johnson introduced Senate Bill 215 to bring Constitutional Carry to Ohio.

SB 215 will not eliminate Ohio’s licensing system, but will make the license optional for those who prefer to have a license, or who wish to carry in other states that recognize Ohio’s license.

“Ohioans have proven themselves to be overwhelmingly law-abiding over the past 17 years since concealed carry became law,” said Dean Rieck, BFA Executive Director. “And Ohio is ready to join the 21 other states that now permit concealed carry without a license.”

Currently, 34 states allow open carry without a license, and 21 states allow concealed carry without a license. In all, 75% of the country makes it legal to carry openly, concealed, or both, without a license. None of these states have seen an increase in crime or accidents, despite the fear mongering of gun control advocates.

As the folks at BFA point out, the new bill wouldn’t change how people can legally carry or change the qualifications for gun ownership. It simply states that if you can legally own a firearm you can also legally carry it either openly or concealed without the need for a government permission slip.

The bill does make one other chance to Ohio law by removing the duty to “promptly” inform police when carrying. As Rieck points out, “promptly” isn’t defined in statute, which leaves it up to both police and prosecutors to decide if the law’s been violated and makes it difficult for gun owners to know when they’re in compliance.

SB 215 has already garnered the backing of nine state senators, which is more than a third of the Republican caucus. The state House also has a permitless carry bill that’s been floating around since it was filed back in March, but so far HB 227 has not received a committee hearing.

Like the vast majority of states around the country, Ohio law already allows for the open carrying of firearms without a license, but most gun owners prefer not to publicly advertise that they’re carrying for self-defense. Rieck says that the fees associated with the concealed carry license and the cost of attending a state-mandated training course can prevent lower-income residents from obtaining a license, but he also questions whether a constitutionally protected right should be subject to a government-issued permission slip.

Even if Ohio does adopt Constitutional Carry, its existing concealed carry licensing system would remain in place for those who want one for reciprocity purposes. Don’t expect that to change the minds of gun control activists, however. Groups like Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence have already come out in opposition to the Constitutional Carry bills, and the state’s Fraternal Order of Police is pushing back against the proposed changes to the duty to inform as well. While Republicans have enough votes (in theory, anyway) to send permitless carry legislation to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk, it remains to be seen if GOP lawmakers will get behind the new bill or allow it to languish in a legislative limbo instead. With opponents already vocalizing their opposition, Second Amendment activists are going to have to be even louder if they want to see Ohio become the 22nd Constitutional Carry state.