BFA Legislative Chair Ken Hanson offers proponent testimony on HB45; Amendments circulated but no votes today

by Chad D. Baus & Jim Irvine

Buckeye Firearms Association's Legislative Chair Ken Hanson offered testimony today in support of Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix legislation before the House Committee on State Government and Elections.

His testimony follows:

I am here today on behalf of Buckeye Firearms Association to give testimony in support of H.B. 45, and to urge the swift passage of this bill.

H.B. 45 makes two important changes to Ohio's concealed carry laws, changes that will bring Ohio into alignment with the majority of states that allow concealed carry. By passing this bill, Ohio's CHL laws will be in substantial conformity with our surrounding states.

The first change deals with removing the car carry restrictions placed upon licensees. Currently Ohio micromanages how a licensee carries a handgun in the car. Of 48 states with legal concealed carry, only three make any mention of how a licensee may carry a gun in a car. The other two states still allow more latitude than Ohio. The car carry provisions are doing nothing to enhance public safety, and are among the last of the "poison pill" provisions in the original H.B. 12, which established Ohio's licensing system.

The claims from the FOP that licensees will now be able to gun down officers during a traffic stop due to the new-found ability to use alleged "quick draw" holsters is simultaneously laughable and extremely insulting. The idea that someone who is looking for a chance to shoot a police officer is simply awaiting the easing of car carry restrictions does not pass the straight-face test; if someone is going to shoot an officer, they aren't worried about carrying their handgun in compliance with state law. Additionally, the idea that removing the car carry restrictions will convert Ohio's 210,000+ licensees into budding cop killers is beneath contempt, and Ohio's sworn officers represented by the police groups who have testified should be ashamed of the nonsense their union leadership is peddling. These types of claims severely harm citizen-police relations at a time when we need look no further than the protestors currently on the front lawn of this building to see that tensions are already high.

The second change made by H.B. 45 is that licensees would now be allowed to enter facilities that serve alcohol, provided the licensee does not consume alcohol and is not already under the influence of alcohol. Again, this change would bring Ohio into substantial conformity with most of the states that allow concealed carry, and would align us with our surrounding neighbors.

The claim that "alcohol and guns don’t mix" is an emotional red herring with a side of wild goose. This bill does not mix guns and alcohol. In fact, this bill maintains a strict separation of the two, with substantial penalties for failing to follow the law.

Current law is doing nothing to protect the public; deadly weapons are concealed and used in our liquor establishments with depressing frequency. Self-defense is a constitutional right, and the state must show a compelling interest to regulate the time, manner and place of the exercise of this right. Thus far, other than blind repetition of the bumper sticker slogan of "guns and alcohol do not mix" in an attempt to appeal to emotion, no evidence has been presented that this provision makes Ohioans any safer. We need look no further than the Columbus news this morning and this weekend to see that the law fails to accomplish its stated purpose.

Balanced against this, we have media reports, and testimony, establishing that criminals are targeting vehicles located outside liquor facilities, and the public is being placed in danger by requiring that licensees leave their handgun in the car for the criminal to steal. This body and the Senate has also previously heard testimony that these restrictions can and do serve to create victim zones, where people must stand by helplessly if a criminal chooses that day and place to commit violence.

The strongest endorsement that can be offered in favor of removing the liquor facility restrictions is that 40+ states allow carry into facilities that serve alcohol, and have done so for many years. Not a single state has sought to repeal or restrictively amend their law in this time; conversely, many states have chosen to allow it. Ohioans are no different, no more dangerous, than the citizens of other states. We can look to these other states as evidence of what works, or we can continue the fiction of our current, out-of-step law.

Buckeye Firearms Association is thankful to have had the opportunity to address the members of the committee, as they have recently been subjected to misleading or erroneous testimony on these subjects from opponents at the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (see here and here).

The opposition to this legislation (both in this and in the previous session of the General Assembly) has been loud, but the arguments are painfully misleading. While void of factual information, they are the exact same 'blood in the streets' type of arguments that we heard in the years leading up to concealed carry becoming law in Ohio. One can understand the concerns that Christopher Columbus would 'fall off the edge of the earth' in the 1480's. From today's perspective, we know that is a laughable notion. Likewise, we know that the emotion-based lies of the anti-freedom cry babies to be as baseless as the predictions of Columbus' 'flat earth' detractors."

Ohio prides itself on being a good destination for tourism. As summer approaches we will welcome visitors from many other states who come to Ohio for fun, entertainment and relaxation. These visitors find our laws confusing because no one (except possibly Bob Taft) ever thought these restrictions made any sense in the first place. Both Ohio residents and our visitors deserve better.

Gongwer News Service has been reporting that a committee vote was possible on this bill today. That did not happen. Instead, no less than eight amendments were circulated, at least seven of which could be described as unreasonably restrictive or completely anti-gun. Buckeye Firearms Association will be hard at work over the next several days answering committee members' questions about the amendments.

After five hearings in the House, this legislation has had more than enough consideration. In the last session, the House held hearings on similar legislation, and after the Senate passed legislation identical to HB45, the House tried to force a vote on the bill at the eleventh hour by voting for a discharge petition. Clearly there is support for this long over-due legislation without any restrictive amendments, and it is time for the Republican leadership to bring it to a vote.

Contact your Representative NOW and make it clear you want our bills passed with no amendments and no more waiting. This is URGENT. Two bills hang in the balance!

Click here to tell your Representative you want our bills passed NOW!

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

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