COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law Monday a measure that will make a concealed weapons permit optional for anyone legally allowed to carry a gun and eliminate the requirement that individuals “promptly” notify police officers that they are carrying a concealed weapon.
Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature passed the bill earlier this month and a DeWine spokesperson had signaled the governor would likely sign it.
The measure, dubbed “Constitutional Carry” by its backers, is one of several GOP-backed proposals in recent years seeking to expand gun rights in Ohio. It was introduced by GOP state Sen. Terry Johnson of southern Ohio’s Scioto County, who said it eliminates a discrepancy in Ohio law that currently allows people to openly carry a gun.
Gun owners can still apply for a concealed weapons permit under the legislation, allowing those who obtain it to carry a concealed weapon in states with reciprocity agreements recognizing such permits. In encounters with police, the bill requires only that individuals confirm they are carrying a weapon if asked by an officer.
The Buckeye Firearms Association said 21 other states allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Gun control groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America opposed it, as did law enforcement groups concerned about the legislation’s lack of required training.
The Ohio Democratic Party accused the governor of caving “to special interest groups and extremists,” saying the measure “will make all Ohioans less safe.”
Last year, Ohio sheriffs issued 202,920 new or renewed conceal carry licenses, a 20% increase over 2020, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said. Sheriffs denied licenses to 2,668 applicants who didn’t meet state-mandated requirements and revoked 420 licenses for such things as felony convictions and mental incompetence.