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Concealed Handgun License renewal deadline looms for many
By Chad D. Baus
Four years ago this week Ohio self-defense activists and the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association were celebrating a hard-fought gubernatorial signature on House Bill 12, Ohio's Concealed Handgun Licensure Law.
Beginning just three months from now and continuing through the rest of 2008, Ohio's 88 county sheriffs and almost half of the state's 100,000 licenseholders alike may be singing a different tune, as they struggle to comply with a ridiculous and confusing state law governing license renewals.
45,497 people obtained an Ohio Concealed Handgun License (CHL) between April 8 and December 31, 2004. Those licenses are set to expire four years later on their date of issuance. This means that nearly half of all Ohio Concealed Handgun Licenseholders will soon be required to make a return trip to the county sheriff's office where they obtained their CHL. Indeed, 26,307 CHLs (58% of all the licenses set to expire this year!) are set to expire between April 8 and June 30, 2008.
ORC 2923.125(F) states that CHL renewals may begin 90 days prior to and no later than 30 days after the license expires. This provides a 120-day window during which the licensee may begin the renewal process. If a licensee fails to start the renewal process within this 120-day period, the CHL will expire and will no longer be valid. To renew more than 30 days after expiration, an applicatant will have to apply for a license and meet all of the initial application requirements.
While a four month renewal window may sound fairly generous, it is the law's requirements for the renewal process itself that threatens to cause licensees and sheriffs significant distress.
ORC 2923.125 (F) states that licensees wishing to renew their CHLs shall submit a competency certification that is not older than six years or a renewed competency certification. The vast majority of 2004 licensees will have obtained a competency certificate from an instructor after having taken a CHL class in the weeks before they obtained their license. That same competency certificate can be used to renew their license this year...if they can find it, or if it even still exists.
"Where is that old competency certificate anyways?"
In 2004, sheriffs were under a great deal of pressure to implement a licensure system, and were given only three months to do it. Every sheriff but one succeeded in meeting the April 8, 2004 deadline for accepting CHL applications. But in those early days, application procedures were in need of fine-tuning, as they would be with any wildly popular system put together in such a short amount of time.
For instance, one sheriff has already confirmed to me that in the early days of the law, his office was accepting originals of applicants competency certificates, but were not yet advising applicants of the importance of making a copy, as they now are. And because state law requires sheriffs to destroy documents submitted at the time of application once the licensing process is completed, every one of the 45,497+ competency certificates submitted to the sheriffs in 2004 were destroyed under statute.
It is highly likely that a great majority of CHL-holders do not have a copy of their original certificate with which to file their renewal application this year. It is important that CHLs whose licenses are expiring at any time this year begin the process of locating a copy of their certificate NOW. Those CHL-holders who cannot locate a copy can call their instructors and ask for a copy. But with the passage of four years, there will not-doubt be instructors who are out of business, and who have moved away or even deceased. What ever can they do now?
There are almost certainly going to be instances this year where CHL-holders are unable to produce the required competency certificate. And the only way for them to obtain another one will be to pay to re-take a concealed carry course.
Other potential problems exist. For instance, if veterans who used a DD214 to obtain their 2004 license made the mistake of not having an official copy made giving theirs to the sheriff, their DD214 was also destroyed. I'm not familiar with the procedures a veteran would have to go through to get another, but I'm guessing it would involve plenty of red tape.
[UPDATE: A reader forwarded the following link for veterans in need of a reissued DD214 - http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/get-service-records.html]
Persons who applied in 2004 using a competency certificate that was two years or older, such as from a past self-defense course taken that happened to fit the requirements of the new law, MUST obtain another competency certificate that meets the provision of ORC 2923.125 (G).
"I've got a competency certification that is less than six years old. Now what?"
1. Re-read the Concealed Carry booklet provided by the Ohio Attorney General - http://www.ag.state.oh.us/le/prevention/pubs/cc_booklet20070314.pdf
2. Complete the Application for License to Carry a Concealed Weapon - http://www.ag.state.oh.us/le/prevention/forms/cc_standard_application.pdf
3. Check ahead to verify what hours your sheriff's office takes applications/ renewals - they are obligated by law to accept applications at least 15 hours per week. Some sheriffs require you to make an appointment or process licenses only on certain days. Take with you:
a) Your original training certificate or renewed certificate showing your certification of competency. (You may also have documentation that shows you are an active or reserve member of the U.S. Military, have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Military, or are a retired law enforcement officer and have acquired experience in handling handguns that is equivalent to the necessary training requirements.)
b) A 2"x2" color passport-style (head and shoulders) photograph taken within 30 days of your renewal application. Many have submitted photographstaken with digital cameras and printed on home computers. Also, most photo shops or travel agencies take passport-type photos for just a few dollars.
c) Renewal fee $55.00 in the form of cash, money order, or a certified check. No credit cards or personal checks. (If you've lived in Ohio for less than five years, the renewal fee is $79.)
d) Your current Concealed Handgun License and a valid driver's license or photo I.D.
You will be required to submit a new set of fingerprints to be used for background checks. The sheriff's office will do this for you at the time of your renewal application.
Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine first attempted to draw attention to the likelihood of renewal difficulties earlier in the month, and there are signs that word is beginning to trickle out.
License-holders who received their CHL in Ottawa County recently received a letter from Sheriff Robert L. Bratton that provided some advice on the process of renewals. And Wilmington New-Herald is reporting that Geauga County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Dewey is beginning to receive calls from concerned license-holders.
"I've been getting a lot of calls about these permits from residents." he said.
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The Licking County Sheriff’s Office is bracing for an influx of concealed carry license holders seeking renewals in the coming weeks, Sheriff Randy Thorp said.
...Thorpe said almost four years in, concealed weapons have not caused any significant problems. He added he has not seen any increase in criminal activity that could be directly related to the permits. Newark police Sgt. John Brnjic said concealed carry has not posed many problems for his department either...
[Richland County sheriff's Lt. Bob] Brown said any worries about the license law, which went into effect in Ohio in 2004, have been alleviated.
"There were concerns about what the stipulations would be, if they were just going to be given out like a driver's license," he said. "I personally have not spoken to anyone in law enforcement that thought this would be a huge problem."
Nearly four years after the concealed weapon law went into effect, Franklin County Chief Deputy Steve Martin said that safety concerns held by some opponents of the law at its inception have turned out to be untrue.
"It's worked well," he said. "We've had very few problems..."
"The training certificates are valid for six years, which means these renewals will go past that date," [Muskingum County Sheriff's Col. Bryan Hoover, who helped draft the policies and procedures for the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association for handling the concealed carry license process] said.
If applicants wait to get re-certified, they will have to take the training course over again.
"We're afraid people will forget about the training and just worry about their permit expiring," he said. "Then we're going to have a lot of upset people."
For example, if you received your permit and training certification in April 2004, the certification will expire in April 2010, Hoover explained.
To avoid that problem, Hoover suggests applicants think about obtaining what is called a certificate of competency, which entails a written test administered by a certified firearms instructor, as well as a requalification shoot, which will in turn be good for another six years.
Holders of the original licenses are permitted to begin the renewal process right now and up to 30 days after expiration, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
Hoover said there have already been a few who have filed their paperwork to renew their licenses this year.
"We've had a few, we're starting to see people filter in," he said. "Our goal is to educate the public."
Deputy Chris Andrews, who handles the license process for the sheriff's office, has processed four or five applications this week, she said. But she expects more calls after she sends out letters to current license holders whose licenses are about to expire.
"It's starting to get busy again," Andrews said, although nothing like when the law went into effect in April 2004. "I'll never forget that first day, there was a line in the hall."
Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen said people need to pay attention to their registration deadlines. He said those who don't reregister for concealed carry permits but continue to carry handguns could face felony charges if caught.
"I see it as the same thing as driving a car with no driver's license," Phalen said.
Phalen said he's been pleased there have been no incidents regarding concealed carry permits since they were issued in 2004.
"I can honestly say we have not had one problem in Fairfield County," Phalen said. "I know, in the beginning, we were concerned that there could be confrontations in response to road rage or something of that nature, but that hasn't been the case."
If you're one of the nearly 200 Hancock County residents who obtained a concealed weapon permit in early 2004, it's renewal time.
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office is urging those who received a four-year permit in April, May and June 2004 — in the first months of Ohio's concealed carry program — to start the renewal process now to avoid processing delays.
"This will help both the individuals and sheriff's office expedite their license renewals," Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy Keith Hendricks said.
When the concealed-carry law was passed, some opponents expressed fears of road-rage and vigilante-justice shootings. They haven't happened, [Steve Martin, chief deputy of the Franklin County sheriff's office] said.
"Originally, there was the doom-and-gloom thinking -- 'Oh, my God, all these people are carrying guns' -- and I can't recall any incidents."
On the other hand, neither does Martin recall any incident locally in which a concealed-carry permit holder prevented a crime or captured a criminal.
NOTE: There have been several such incidents of self-defense in Columbus. See here.
A.J. Rodenberg, Clermont County Sheriff: "One thing that hasn't happened is there was a lot of doom and gloom predictions or projections by anti-firearm types that there was going to be shoot-outs, people shooting other people, innocent bystanders were going to get hurt, families, children etc, etc, that hasn't happened, I know of no incident in Ohio like that."
“I don’t know that we’ve had the problems and fears that law enforcement had when this first came out,” [Greene County Sheriff’s Maj. Eric] Prindle said.
With courses that emphasize basic gun safety and background checks designed to weed out violent or unstable individuals, CCW permit holders have not posed a significant problem for law enforcement or the average citizen in Greene County, Prindle said.
According to the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, fewer than a handful of CCW permit holders have been charged with a gun crime. In none of those cases was a gun discharged.
Nearly 45,500 Ohioans were issued concealed-carry licenses in 2004, and 90 percent of them are expected to renew their permits this year, said Robert Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association.
...Some Ohioans may have begun the renewal process, Mr. Cornwell said.
Licenses can be renewed up to 90 days before they expire and up to 30 days after, at which point the license becomes invalid, Mr. Cornwell said.
Four years have passed since the first applicants obtained licenses to carry concealed handguns in Ohio.
...The passage of the bill four years ago had some law enforcement officials skeptical of what might happen once the licenses were issued.
Ravenna Police Chief Randy McCoy said at the time he didn't think allowing citizens to walk around armed was a good idea.
On Feb. 22, he admitted the Ravenna police have not had any major issues.
Bud Connolly of Perry Village...is a concealed carry instructor [who]...said he's been fielding inquiries from permit holders as to how the process works.
"Most of the people that I've spoken with say they want to renew," Connolly said.
"I haven't heard anyone say they won't because they don't carry now."