ANALYSIS: Sub. HB274 as passed by the Senate

After reviewing the language of the Substitute bill adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee (Civil Justice), Ohioans for Concealed Carry made public its decision to OPPOSE this amended language. Our 6:00 a.m., December 5 press release can be reviewed by clicking here.

In this release, OFCC called upon the Senate committee to reverse course, and to pass the bill as passed by the Ohio House. Unfortunately, they did not.

Instead, the bill was amended into an even worse manifestation in committee, and after months of inaction and under a heavy time crunch, the full Senate reluctantly passed this Substitute version 20-11.

Many pro-CCW reformers have contacted us to have express their full support for this decision. Some have inquired as to why, while every single Ohio gun rights group has decided to oppose Sub. HB274, the NRA/ILA's lobbyist John Hohenwarter expresses enthusiasm for, and continues to press for passage of, this amended legislation.

Ohioans for Concealed Carry is in the process of preparing a guide which will explain the reasons for its opposition.

Although the dangerous "safe storage" in a vehicle language received the most press, it was NOT that single issue that caused OFCC to oppose the Senate version. Rather, it was a myriad of things, one on top of each other. HB274 as it left the House and as it left the Senate are two distinctly different pieces of legislation. What the Senate and the NRA/ILA are trying to pass as "concealed carry reform" is anything but reform.

The Senate version made these and other significant changes:

1. Required a 12 hour training course and a written/practical test. There are no entities that have such a test. The NRA doesn't offer such a test, and unless you follow the NRA curriculum, and are an NRA instructor, you are no longer covered by their instructor's insurance.

2. Required "requalification" every 6 years.

3. Made sports arenas disarmed victim zones (they were already covered by liquor-sales ban - why specifically mentioned?).

4. Made day-care centers disarmed victim zones. This was true even for home-operated day-care centers!

5. Made it a first degree misdemeanor if you didn't see a vaguely described "No CCW" sign on a private business.

6. Private businesses are permitted to have "No CCW" signs in their parking lots.

7. No CCW in ANY government-owned building or any building being leased by the government. How can you know?

8. Required fingerprints for ALL applicants.

9. Entered your name into a computer database of licensees. You're registered with law-enforcement via the common LEADS database as a gun owner, possibly carrying a gun.

10. If a licensee carries a gun into prohibited places, it's viewed by prosecutors as if you don't have a license to carry a gun at all.

11. Required you to announce that you have a license and are carrying a gun if approached by any law enforcement officer.

12. Required you to make your gun inaccessible/ not readily available while in a motor vehicle (where, quite literally, 100% of all car-jackings occur).

13. Under current law, have a loaded gun in a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor. Under this law, it is a felony if you don't have a license.

14. Adds as a permanent disqualification if you were EVER convicted of misdemeanor assault on a police officer, even if it resulted in ZERO jail time and occurred 30 years ago as a juvenile, and you have been law-abiding since.

15. Removed the so-called 5th affirmative defense, which provided exemption from conviction if you are caught carrying without a license, but would have met all of the qualifications to get a license (had training and have no criminal history, etc). Basically, if you were arrested with CCW w/o a license, you could use this argument at trial.

16. Made reciprocity agreements VERY difficult, if not impossible, to make and added no provision for non-resident licenses.

17. Added language requiring Firearms Dealers to offer pamphlets on safe-storage and gun locks. This more than likely violates the Ohio Constitution's rule on single-subject legislation. Since safe-storage and gun locks have nothing to do with CCW.

The Senate's Substitute HB274 doesn't give us much of anything we don't have now, besides a bunch of red tape, more restrictions, and further elimination of our rights. The Senate President said he was worried about progressing with HB274 because they were dealing with legislation that impacted laws the courts have already declared unconstitutional, and that the Ohio Supreme Court could agree with those courts.

Instead of actually addressing those concerns, the Senate eliminated a newly crafted affirmative defense that would have partially addressed the due process issue, created a more extensive list of places you can't have a firearm, implemented a scheme to register gun owners who want to carry them legally, created a database that could be accessed by non-Ohio law enforcement officials.

If Ohioans For Concealed Carry agreed to this legislation, we would be conceding to a serious defeat and sending the wrong message to the Ohio Supreme Court, where we have argued that TODAY's law is unconstitutional.

Throughout 2002, Ohioans For Concealed Carry has been insisting that HB274, as it left the Ohio House, should be given a chance. We were probably the only group besides the NRA and the BSSA that supported HB274.

We insisted that the Ohio Senate should be given an opportunity to pass it as it was, or consider fixing some of the small problems we saw when it left the House.

We gave it that chance, and we can't realistically expect anyone to support this legislation any longer.

The Ohio House and all of the pro-gun grassroots groups in Ohio are now opposed to the Substitute bill. Only the Senate and the NRA/ILA support it, and only the NRA/ILA's lobbyist John Hohenwarter expresses enthusiasm for it.

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