Will Ohio Be The Next Constitutional Carry State?

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

One of the arguments raised by the state of New York in its defense of its carry permitting laws is that, throughout the history of this country, states have imposed plenty of restrictions on the right to bear arms. In fact, in the 19th century some states completely forbade the carrying of concealed firearms, so why can’t New York limit the carrying of firearms solely to those the authorities deem worthy of the privilege?

The argument doesn’t hold much weight from an historical perspective, because those same states that either banned the concealed carrying of firearms or specifically allowed the legislature to regulate the practice didn’t try to impose similar restrictions on the open carrying of firearms. In New York, that practice is against the law as well, which means that the average citizen has no way of bearing arms in self-defense without first proving to the subjective and arbitrary authority of a judge or county sheriff that they’ve demonstrated a “justifiable need” to carry a gun.

But there is another flaw in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ argument; the long, moral arc of history is bending towards the full recognition of the right to keep and bear arms. We now have just eight states with New York’s “may issue” laws on the books, while 21 states have adopted Constitutional Carry laws that recognize the right of lawful gun owners to legally carry without the need for a government permission slip. There are currently no plans afoot in any state to go backwards from a Constitutional Carry or “shall issue” licensing system, but even as the Court takes up the issue of the right to carry, another state is moving towards adopting a permitless carry bill.

An Ohio House committee passed legislation Thursday that would allow most Ohioans who are 21 years of age and up to lawfully carry a concealed firearm.

… The legislation passed without much fanfare from Ohio’s House Government Oversight Committee. House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, R-Green Twp., said he was convinced of the need to pass the legislation by gun lobbyists from the National Rifle Association and the Buckeye Firearms Association.

 

Rep. Tim Ginter, a Salem Republican who also works as an ordained minister, mentioned that the legislation clarifies that people can carry concealed weapons in a house of worship, as many of his parishioners do.

 

“If you attend the church that I pastor, just be aware that there’s probably a lot of people in there with handguns,” he said.

House Democrats on the committee opposed the legislation. They tried, without success, to amend two anti-gun violence provisions into the bill. One would require background checks to purchase firearms at gun shows and from private sellers. Another would allow judges, if petitioned by family or law enforcement, to temporarily seize weapons from people experiencing mental health crises.

Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson, the ranking Democrat on the committee, called the legislation “short-sighted” and divisive.

“This extreme legislation doesn’t make Ohio any more gun friendly,” she said. “Instead, it makes it a lot less safe for all of us, including gun owners.”

The current penalty for carrying a gun without a license in Ohio is a misdemeanor, subject to a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. I would argue that doesn’t do much, if anything, to deter violent criminals (not that increasing the punishment to a felony has made a difference in places like New York City and Chicago). Instead, the impact is going to fall hardest on legal gun owners of limited means who might not be able to afford the licensing and training fees, as well as those with a sudden need to protect themselves against an abusive ex or online stalker, who currently have to wait for several weeks (in the best of circumstances) before they get their state-issued permission slip.

Ohio’s push for permitless carry is still in the early stages, but with Second Amendment groups getting behind the legislation and Republicans wanting to deliver another 2A win before next year’s elections, the Buckeye State could very well become the 22nd in the nation to fully recognize the right of the people to bear arms.

Dec 04, 2021 11:30 AM ET