COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A concealed weapons permit would become optional and the requirement that individuals “promptly” notify police officers that they are carrying a concealed weapon would be eliminated, under legislation proposed in the Ohio Senate.
The bill is similar to a measure pending in the Ohio House, and is one of several GOP-backed proposals in recent years seeking to expand gun rights in Ohio. The new concealed weapons bill, dubbed “Constitutional Carry” by its backers, was introduced Aug. 5 by state Sen. Terry Johnson, a Republican from southern Ohio’s Scioto County.
Keeping the permit optional — as opposed to eliminating it altogether — would allow gunowners who obtain it to carry a concealed weapon in states with reciprocity agreements recognizing such permits.
Johnson did not return messages seeking comment on the bill. Earlier this year, Rep. Tom Brinkman, a Cincinnati Republican, noted it’s already legal to openly carry a firearm in Ohio without a license or training.
“In order to avoid unnecessary hassle from the public or law enforcement, one may decide to put a coat or jacket over their firearm,” Brinkman, sponsor of the House legislation, told the House Government Oversight Committee in April. “Sadly, that individual instantly turns into a felon if they have not gone through some … government-mandated rigmarole first.”
The concept has the backing of the Buckeye Firearms Association, which says 21 other states allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a license.
“Ohioans have proven themselves to be overwhelmingly law-abiding over the past 17 years since concealed carry became law,” said Dean Rieck, the association’s executive director.
The statewide chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police opposes it, with government affairs director Mike Weinman saying “background checks and training and the notification are absolutely necessary.”
In January, GOP Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law eliminating an individual’s duty to retreat before using force. The measure expands the so-called “stand your ground” right from an individual’s house and car to any place, “if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has a right to be.”
DeWine had previously signaled he might veto the bill, and had expressed dissatisfaction lawmakers were ignoring his own legislation proposed after the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine. Instead, he signed the stand your ground bill in “the spirit of cooperation” with the General Assembly.
DeWine’s proposals include mandatory data entry on warrants for serious crimes into state and federal background check databases, increased penalties for people found in illegal possession of a gun, and increased penalties for so-called straw purchases, when a third party buys a weapon for someone prohibited from such purchases.
Though the governor inserted the measures into the state budget, Republican lawmakers took them out before passing the $75 billion spending plan in June.
In April, Democrats in the Ohio House unveiled several gun control proposals including universal background checks for gun purchases and so-called “red flag” laws allowing for the temporary removal of weapons from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others.