The state of Ohio isn’t one thinks of as pro-gun, but it’s also not an anti-gun state by any measure. There’s a strong sentiment of supporting the Second Amendment that runs through much of the state. While there’s also a fairly strong anti-gun sentiment in some parts, it’s not enough to make Ohio into another California by any stretch.
However, a recent report from the state suggests that one metric we could use to determine what the sentiment toward guns is has changed. A lot.
In particular, a sharp decrease in concealed carry permits in the state.
New and renewed concealed-handgun permits issued in Ohio dropped by more than 20 percent between 2018 and 2019, resulting in the fewest new licenses in nearly a decade, according to a new state report.
Last year, Ohio county sheriffs issued 54,426 new conceal-carry permits and 77,959 renewals, each decreasing about 21 percent from the previous year, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office.
The report didn’t explain the drop in new permits, and a Yost spokesman said he didn’t want to speculate about the reason for the decline. But the report noted that denials were rare – 1,310 in total, a rate of less than 1 percent. The number of new permits issued has fallen in Ohio every year since 2016, when an all-time high of 117,953 permits were approved.
Now, does that mean the state is shifting toward becoming an anti-gun haven? After all, this is the same timeframe when the mass shooting in Dayton took place. Did that shake the faith in gun rights for some Ohioans?
When concealed-firearms permits were first issued in 2004, they had to be renewed every four years. But after 2008, the renewal period was extended to five years – meaning the 45,497 Ohioans who originally registered in 2004 – along with tens of thousands more who got licenses in 2008 and 2013 – had to renew last year.
Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said that 2019 wasn’t a particularly unusual year if you look at overall permits issued. While the 132,365 new and renewed permits in 2019 was down from more than 168,000 total licenses in 2018, it’s only up slightly from the 131,000 or so valid licenses at the end of 2017.
Plus, there’s another factor that needs to be acknowledged, and that’s the push for constitutional carry. It’s possible that at least some of those who didn’t renew their permits failed to do so because it was their hope that constitutional carry would pass in the state, thus negating the requirement completely. Concealed carry permits cost money and take time. That’s something many would rather skip if they could, so it’s possible they were more optimistic over constitutional carry’s passage than it turned out was warranted.
All of this contributes to a decline in the number of permits being issued, either renewal or initial issuing.
In other words, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Gun traditions in the state remain as strong as they always have, despite the media push following the Dayton shooting. That’s because many Ohioans aren’t going to be swayed by a single evil act that actually proved gun control’s failures in the first place.