Headline: House Panel Debates Bill To Ease Regulations On Gun Owners

The Gongwer News Service is reporting on the second hearing on HB495 (Reciprocity & Concealed Carry Modernization), which was held yesterday before the House Committee on State Government and Elections.

According to the article, gun rights advocates urged members of the committee to ease restrictions on concealed carry licensees, while opponents warned the bill would bring Ohio's firearm regulations into line with the "lowest common denominator" among states.

National Rifle Association member Omar Ganoom said the legislation (HB 495) would eliminate an onerous and unfair requirement for licensees to undergo competency training for renewing their licenses, he said, noting that there is no similar requirement for drivers' licenses.

The current competency-training requirement is unnecessary because Ohio already has more stringent standards than most other states, he said. "Once people are properly trained, that training usually stays with you for the rest of your life."

The measure would also clarify the issue of reciprocity to make it easier for Ohio to recognize the validity of concealed carry licenses issued by other states, he said, noting that currently the attorney general has to work out reciprocity agreements with other states individually. "That will free up the AG to do other kinds of things."

In addition on driver's licenses, another strong analogy to the fact that recurrent training is unnecessary, and that proposed changes to reciprocity are reasonable, is the hunting license.

As Buckeye Firearms Association Minute Man Dan Allen observes, "I haven't been raccoon hunting in 25 years nor have I fired the rifle that I used to for that purpose. To think that I have forgotten the safety rules and how to use the rifle AND read the regulations is absurd. With the level of responsibility that comes with a CHL and the consequences that fall upon a licensee for ignorance of the law...we're not talking raccoons here...To think they have forgotten how to use the equipment or stay informed of the law is also absurd. Neither is something you forget and the fundamentals almost never change."

Again, from the account of Ganoon's testimony:

Mr. Ganoom also urged support for a provision that would address the definition of a loaded weapon in vehicles to "decriminalize the way ammunition is transported." Ohio law on carrying ammunition in the vehicle has always been problematic for gun owners and is out of line with other states, he said.

Responding to Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), Mr. Ganoom said gun owners have to carry their ammunition in a separate locked case from the gun. If a magazine is loaded, it also has to be carried separately, he said. "Having a magazine loaded as opposed to not loaded really isn't much of a difference."

The bill would eliminate the unnecessary "technicality," he said. "Citizens, who are pretty much law abiding, would not be criminalized because they are carrying ammunition in a magazine as opposed to a box."

Responding to a question from Rep. Tom Letson (D-Warren), Mr. Ganoom said the vehicle provision would apply to all gun owners because concealed carry licensees can already transport loaded firearms in a vehicle legally.

The article continues with details on testimony from other proponents of the legislation.

NRA-certified firearms instructor Mike Lyons noted that about 30 states recognize the Ohio's concealed carry license.

However, Georgia does not recognize Ohio's license, which creates a problem for Ohioans traveling to Florida when licensees have to stop and figure out how to legally transport firearms through that state, he said. The bill's reciprocity section would help eliminate such hassles.

Testimony was also given by opponents of the legislation:

Katelyn Neil, a former Marine, said licenses should have to pass a written exam initially and should be required to retake the test for license renewal every five years because concealed carry laws are complex and change frequently.

Testifying as an opponent on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, Inc., Mike Weinman said the measure would jeopardize the safety of the public and law enforcement officers in Ohio.

"Ohioans, who carefully crafted their CCW permit laws, will be forced into accepting extremely weak CCW permit requirements from other states," he said, noting that Indiana does not require any kind of firearms training. "These untrained Hoosiers would be allowed to carry a weapon into strip clubs and bars across the state."

The proposed change to transporting ammunition in vehicles would allow an experienced individual to load and fire a weapon next to them on the passenger seat within seconds, he said. Eliminating continued training for licensees is also "very troubling."

It isn't mentioned in the article, but Weinman was asked by a committee member if he could give a comparison in crime levels between Indiana where there is no training requirement and Ohio where there is one? Weinman said he didn't know off-hand. Another committee member followed up, saying "I'd like to know. Please get it to me so I can distribute it to the committee members."

As to Weinman's concerns about "those untrained Hoosiers," Allen's hunting license analogy is once again highly applicable.

"We allow hundreds of thousands of deer hunters into our woods each year with loaded guns and archery equipment from all over the United States and in some cases the world," Allen notes. "The most popular estimates are in the 350,000-450,000 range. They take one test once in their lifetime. One class with roughly 12 hours of training. They still manage to conform to the laws thanks to the Hunting and Trapping Regulations publications regardless of the time between hunts. We trust them to not be ignorant of the laws which do change frequently. The state attorney general provides a similar free publication for CHL holders too."

As has been pointed out on this website previously, the FOP is a union that represents sworn police officers and is funded through union dues deducted from wages paid to police officers (i.e. funded by your tax dollars.) Neither the labor union leadership nor the members are directly accountable to voters.

As we consider this latest round of Chicken Little claims by the FOP, it is worth reviewing claims made by the group during debate on Restaurant Carry. The FOP opposed that legislation in part because it would: allow licensees to drive around twirling guns on their finger, allow the use of quick draw holsters that are a danger to police and require those going to restaurants to have "designated shooters."

But as was admitted on May 27 by, of all news outlets, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, NOTHING like that has happened.

Also making an appearance was another person whose previous testimony against pro-gun legislation has been proved wrong time and again.

Toby Hoover, executive director of the Coalition Against Gun Violence, said the measure would essentially allow people with no firearms training whatsoever to carry loaded guns in their vehicles.

If a gun can be loaded within seconds, it should be considered loaded, she said.

Ms. Hoover also panned the proposal to ease competency-training requirements. "People need to know what the law is and know what it is they can do and can't do," she said.

The witness also challenged gun advocates' argument that firearms restrictions only affect law-abiding citizens. "They all are law-abiding to start with, but they don't always stay that way," she said.

Responding to a question from Rep. Jim Buchy(R-Greenville), Ms. Hoover said just because someone passed a test doesn't mean they will always remain law-abiding. "We have an obligation to say: some of these things we shouldn't weaken and make easier for people to do."

Chairman Rep. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) challenged her assertion that concealed carry holders have killed at least 447 people in the U.S. over the past five years, noting that the statistic didn't account for those who may have been defending themselves during a crime.

Ms. Hoover said the Violence Policy Center data showed that 334 of the killings were during non-self-defense incidents.

After quoted her flawed statisics from the VPC, Hoover was asked by a committee member how many people have been killed by non-CHL holders, and she said "I don't know."

Perhaps in a future committee meeting someone will also ask Hoover to speak to the number of documented cases of self-defense with guns since May 2007 – the same time frame the VPC used: 2160.

The chairman grilled Ms. Hoover on her position on the Second Amendment. The witness said she accepts the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court, but also believes policymakers remain responsible for preventing gun violence.

"This is a minority of people that believe they have to carry a gun everywhere, and if we're going to allow that in the state of Ohio, we have to take steps to make sure they're doing that as safely as possible," she said.

Tom Smith, public policy director for the Ohio Council of Churches, described the measure as part of a "creeping expansion of handgun regulations in Ohio."

"Is there nothing that the NRA wishes that Ohio legislators can ever say no to?" he asked. "Clearly, we will someday have handguns in every church, college, high school, just so we can sell more of them to the public."

Nine years ago, Governor Robert Taft refused to sign Ohio's concealed carry legislation unless it contained language to address so-called "safety concerns" of anti-gun activists. None of these provisions have proven helpful in protecting public safety, nor is there any evidence they have reduced gun-related crime. It is time to pass Hb495 and bring Ohio's concealed carry laws into the 21st century.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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