Senate President Niehaus tells media he still hasn't decided on allowing HB495 floor vote

PLEASE CALL PRESIDENT NIEHAUS AND YOUR STATE SENATOR NOW AND ASK FOR A FLOOR VOTE ON HB495 TODAY! Without a vote today, the bill dies. Click here for Sen. Pres. Niehaus' number, and and enter your zip code to find your Senator's number.

by Chad D. Baus

The Ohio House has already passed HB495 in the state House of Representatives by a 59 to 28 vote on June 13, and passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 6-2 vote on Wednesday. The bill will most assuredly pass in the Senate if given a chance.

But following the hearing, Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) told the media he still hadn't decided whether or not to allow the bill to come to the floor for a final vote today, the final day of session for the year.

From Gongwer News Service:

"I like the general thrust of the bill in terms of providing reciprocity. But the questions that I want to see how they are being handled involve areas like: what training do other states have? What are the safety provisions that are included?"

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine provided testimony that addressed these exact questions. DeWine told committee members he supports passage of the bill.

Despite having the support of the chief law enforcement official in the state, and despite the fact that the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Buckeye State Sheriff's Association are neutral on the bill, The Columbus Dispatch begins its coverage of the hearing by complaining that the bill passed committee "despite objections from law enforcement."

From The Dispatch:

The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio oppose the bill.

Mike Weinman, director of government affairs for the FOP of Ohio, noted that Ohio doesn't have a reciprocity agreement with Indiana because of that state's lack of a training requirement.

"They don't even come close to our standards here in Ohio," he said. "Under this automatic reciprocity, we automatically have to accept that Indiana permit just because they accept Ohio's. Now the people in Indiana get to decide who gets to carry a gun in the state of Ohio.”

Weinman said it circumvents Ohio's training standards, which include at least 10 hours of class time and two hours of range time. He said he also doesn't know how thorough the background checks are in other states.

"We don't want untrained people in our bars and strip clubs engaging in firefights in crowded rooms without any type of training," he said.

If this quote is accurate, and taken to its logical conclusion, Weinman seems to be fine with the idea of firefights in bars and strip clubs so long as the participants have been trained.

In all seriousness, Restaurant Carry has been the law of the land for over a year now, and none of the warnings the Ohio FOP and OACP gave in advance of that law have come to pass. What's more, it is possible to take a short drive to Indiana or Pennsylvania and see that they aren't having any problems there, despite the lack of mandatory training.

Indeed, as Sen. Mark Wagoner (R-Toledo) pointed out in the committee hearing, the concerns being expressed by Niehaus and these two anti-gun law enforcement groups have been considered, but "other states have different types of drivers laws, too, yet we still recognize that."

Furthermore, as mentioned previously, Attorney General Mike DeWine supports the bill, and in a recent letter to Wagoner wrote: “While some states have varying levels of training and thoroughness of background checks, we have nothing to fear from (license) holders who are obeying the laws of our state while they are here."

Again, from The Dispatch:

DeWine estimates that the bill will lead to agreements with 11 states, including Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Ken Hanson, legislative director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said this would help Ohio licensees traveling to and from Florida who currently have to disarm when going through Georgia, which currently doesn't honor Ohio's permit.

...Weinman said police also don't like eliminating the need to prove range competency when renewing a license for a second time. "Something could happen where you wouldn't be able to handle that firearm safely,” he said.

Hanson said the change would not affect safety because by the time a second renewal comes up, they've been carrying a handgun in Ohio for 10 years "without a safety incident. If there was an incident, they would be disqualified from being able to renew."

PLEASE CALL PRESIDENT NIEHAUS AND YOUR STATE SENATOR NOW AND ASK FOR A FLOOR VOTE ON HB495 TODAY! Without a vote today, the bill dies. Click here for Sen. Pres. Niehaus' number, and and enter your zip code to find your Senator's number.

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

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