UPDATE: Senate & House pass amended HB495; Bill sent to Governor Kasich for signature

Editor's Note: This article is being updated as information becomes available.

by Chad D. Baus

An amended HB495 was passed by the Ohio Senate today by a 26-7 vote. Two and a half hours later, the Ohio House voted 66-23 to concur with Senate amendments.

The amended bill makes three changes to current law:

  • Eliminates the "demonstrated competency" requirement for second and future CHL renewals, making CHL training similar to a hunting license.
  • Fixes the definition of a "loaded gun" to match the commonly accepted definition.
  • Allows law-abiding gun owners to have their firearms stored in their cars in the state-owned parking garages such as the one under the Statehouse.

Unfortunately, despite having support from Ohio's chief law enforcement official, Attorney General Mike DeWine, concerns remained in the Senate over the reciprocity provisions and how it would work. In an attempt to address those concerns, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill yesterday to allow 180 days before that provision took effect, rather than the standard 90 days. This would have given officials more time to prepare for the changes. In the end, however, in order to get an agreement for a floor vote, it was necessary to have the provision removed from the bill, with the commitment to come back and revisit it early next session.

As a result of this development, those who need to carry in states with which Ohio doesn't have reciprocity will continue to need to go get other licenses.

Video of the Senate debate that preceded this development, including comments by the sponsor of the reciprocity amendment, Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) can be viewed here.

Video of House concurrence debate can be viewed here.

"HB495 was good, common sense legislation," said Jim Irvine, Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman. "As is common in politics, we didn't get everything we wanted, but we dramatically improved the law. We solved the critical issues of removing the ill-conceived 'demonstrated competency' for renewals that start next month, and achieved a workable definition of a "unloaded firearm.'"

The bill will now be sent to Governor John Kasich for his signature.

Vote tallies and media coverage will be posted below as they become available.


Media Coverage:

Associated Press - Ohio Senate OKs Bill to Allow Guns in Capitol Lot

Guns could be left in vehicles parked in the Statehouse garage beneath the state Capitol under a bill the Ohio Senate passed on Thursday.

The measure cleared the Republican-controlled chamber on 26-7 vote, with several Democrats voting in favor of the bill. The House passed an earlier version of the legislation and would have to OK the changes before the bill can be sent to the governor.

Passage came after senators stripped parts of the bill that dealt with concealed weapon agreements between states.

The provision would have expanded how the attorney general enters into such reciprocity agreements with states to allow Ohioans with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms.

Currently, the attorney general must negotiate written reciprocity agreements with states. The provision would have allowed "automatic" reciprocity with states that offer such a provision in their law. It would have worked in a way similar to how states recognize out-of-state driver's licenses.

Some law enforcement groups opposed that section of the bill because they said it could permit license-holders from states with weaker training requirements to legally carry weapons in Ohio.

Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine had supported the provision. He said in a letter to a Senate committee that it could open the door to agreements with another 11 states. Ohio already has deals with 23 states.

Lawmakers removed the wording because they said they wanted to take more time to review the change.

"This is an issue that we need to act upon, but we need to do it right," said state Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican.

A Senate committee on Wednesday revised the bill to allow gun owners with or without concealed-carry licenses to keep their weapons in cars in the Statehouse garage. They also could keep firearms in cars in the parking garage at a building near the Capitol that houses the governor's office and many legislators' offices.

State Sen. Larry Obhof, who offered the amendment, said many Senate Republicans are gun owners who like hunting and shooting at ranges. The Medina Republican said the revision was "largely for convenience's sake" for gun owners.

....The bill also would make changes to how the state defines an unloaded weapon and would eliminate a competency requirement for concealed-carry permit holders to prove they still can handle a gun when they renew their licenses.

Columbus Dispatch - Senate passes gun bill after one change

Lawmakers gave final approval to a bill changing how people can carry ammunition clips in their vehicles and allowing drivers to bring guns to the Statehouse and Riffe Center parking garages.

But before the Senate passed House Bill 495, it stripped from the bill a provision that would have automatically required Ohio to recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states.

Law-enforcement officials had expressed significant concerns about the unlimited reciprocity provision, arguing it would allow people to carry guns in Ohio who have gone through less training and less-rigorous background checks than is required for Ohio concealed-carry licensees.

The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio also noted that the bill would have allowed someone who did not qualify for a concealed-carry license in Ohio to simply go to a neighboring state with less-restrictive requirements.

Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, acknowledged that was a fair concern, and he successfully had the reciprocity provision removed from the bill. Both he and Sen. Larry Obhof Jr., R-Montville Township, said they will continue working on the provision next year with law enforcement.

"This is a provision we need to act upon, but we need to do it right," he said.

Gongwer News Service - Legislature Sends Gun Bill To Kasich Without 'Reciprocity' Provision

Although a controversial proposal to automatically recognize other states' concealed carry permits died in the Senate Thursday, Ohioans will most likely be able to pack heat in the Statehouse garage next year.

Prior to voting 26-7 to send the gun bill (HB 495) back to the House, senators amended it on the floor to remove language that would automatically validate concealed weapon licenses from other states that recognize Ohio licenses.

The House hotly debated the remaining proposal before agreeing to the Senate's amendments 66-23 and sending it toGov. John Kasich for his signature.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor was likely to sign the measure, which would redefine "loaded" firearms, eliminate a training requirement for concealed carry license renewals, and allow guns to be stored in vehicles parked in Capitol Square parking garages.

Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) said he remained concerned that the reciprocity provision could permit people from other states to carry in Ohio without adequate training, despite an amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee designed to delay implementation to address the issue.

Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said he personally supported the reciprocity provision but acknowledged concerns that it would force Ohio to recognize licensees from other states with much more relaxed requirements.

Current Ohio law exacerbated the issue, however, because Ohioans can obtain their CCW license from another state, he said.

"If we don't do something about this arguable loophole, we are actually creating a vehicle for folks that we ourselves would not license here," he said. "They could go to some other state that has no training requirement or allows violent misdemeanants to get a CCW and...then bypass our law."

Sen. Larry Obhof (R-Medina) described the bill as a common sense revision to the current definition of "unloaded" firearm, which requires a magazine to be empty while being transported in a vehicle, even if it is stored in a separate locked container or compartment.

"This rule contradicts the common sense, or at least the common sense understanding that a gun with no bullets in it isn't loaded and it creates traps for the unwary," he said, noting the proposal would allow a gun and its magazine to be transported in the same vehicle as long as they're stored in separate containers.

Meanwhile, there's no need for the current training requirement for CCW license renewals, which is vague on enforcement, Sen. Obhof said. "I don't think there's any need for us to continue to saddle what is already a well-functioning system."

Gongwer News Service - Lawmakers Laud Legislation Passed Late In Lame Duck Session

The Buckeye Firearms Association lamented the Senate's decision to excise "automatic reciprocity" from a gun bill, but applauded remaining provisions that would: allow people to store weapons in Capitol Square garages; drive with loaded magazines in separate containers; and eliminate a training requirement for concealed carry license renewals (HB 495).

"House Bill 495 was good, common sense legislation," Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said. "As is common in politics, we didn't get everything we wanted, but we dramatically improved the law. We solved the critical issues of removing the ill-conceived 'demonstrated competency' for renewals that start next month, and achieved a workable definition of a 'unloaded firearm.'"

Toledo Blade - Bill allowing guns in parking garage under Ohio Statehouse 'likely' to get Kasich signature

Gov. John Kasich is about to get a bill that would for the first time allow guns to be legally brought into the parking garages under the Ohio Statehouse and the nearby state tower containing his and legislators’ offices.

But just before approving the latest bill relaxing restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in Ohio, lawmakers removed a provision that would have required the state to recognize similar permits issued in other states even if those persons couldn't have qualified here.

In one of their last acts before ending the current two-year session and heading for the doors for the holidays, the Ohio Senate voted 26-7 to approve House Bill 495. The House then voted 66-23 to accept the changes made by the upper chamber and forward the bill on to Mr. Kasich.

A spokesman for the governor said Mr. Kasich is "likely" to sign it.


SENATE VOTE TALLIES

Substitute House Bill 495

The question being, "Shall the bill, Sub. H. B. No. 495, pass?"

The yeas and nays were taken and resulted - yeas 26, nays 7, as follows:

Those who voted in the affirmative were: Senators

Bacon
Balderson
Beagle
Burke
Cafaro
Coley
Eklund
Faber
Gentile
Hite
Hughes
Jones
Jordan
LaRose
Lehner
Manning
Obhof
Oelslager
Patton
Peterson
Schaffer
Schiavoni
Seitz
Wagoner
Widener
Niehaus-26.

Senators Brown, Kearney, Sawyer, Skindell, Smith, Tavares, and Turner voted in the negative-7.

HOUSE VOTE TALLIES

Substitute House Bill 495

The question being, "Shall the Senate amendments be concurred in?"

The yeas and nays were taken and resulted - yeas 66, nays 23, as follows:

Those who voted in the affirmative were: Representatives

Adams J.
Adams R.
Amstutz
Anielski
Baker
Beck
Blair
Blessing
Boose
Brenner
Bubp
Buchy
Butler
Cera
Combs
Conditt
Damschroder
DeVitis
Derickson
Dovilla
Duffey
Gardner
Gonzales
Grossman
Hackett
Hagan, C.
Hall
Hayes
Hill
Hottinger
Huffman
Johnson
Kozlowski
Landis
Letson
Lynch
Maag
Mallory
Martin
McClain
McGregor
Murray
Newbold
O'Brien
Okey
Pelanda
Phillips
Pillich
Roegner
Rosenberger
Ruhl
Scherer
Schuring
Sears
Smith
Sprague
Stautberg
Stebelton
Stinziano
Szollosi
Terhar
Thompson
Uecker
Young
Yuko
Batchelder-66.

Those who voted in the negative were: Representatives

Antonio
Barnes
Boyce
Carney
Celebrezze
Celeste
Clyde
Driehaus
Fedor
Foley
Garland
Gerberry
Hagan, R.
Heard
Lundy
Milkovich
Patmon
Ramos
Reece
Slesnick
Sykes
Williams
Winburn-23.

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