BFA Testifies in Support of House Bill 455 to Protect Carry License Holders

When it comes to firearms, the law should only criminalize behavior that puts others in danger. It should not seek to punish otherwise honest, law-abiding people for making innocent mistakes.

This is the logic behind House Bill 455, sponsored by Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus, to help people avoid charges for accidentally carrying a firearm in a prohibited place.

Specifically, the bill would provide an opportunity for a concealed handgun licensee or qualified military member to avoid charges for carrying a deadly weapon into a prohibited place if the person leaves upon request and to penalize failure to leave upon request or returning with a firearm.

While this isn't a big, attention-grabbing piece of legislation like Constitutional Carry, it is often bills exactly like this that solve real-world problems gun owners run into. That's why we work not just to advance the big bills, but all the other pro-gun bills as well.

BFA was the only Ohio pro-gun organization to testify on this bill. This is also the case for HB 99 to exempt armed school personnel from police training, HB 471 to exempt firearms and ammunition from sales tax, and SB 185 to limit government power during emergencies. BFA puts in the effort to support a full range of legislation on gun and sportsman rights to improve the lives of liberty-minded gun owners in Ohio.

Buckeye Firearms Association testified in favor of HB 455 on February 8, 2022, before the House Government Oversight Committee.

Testimony of Rob Sexton
On behalf of Buckeye Firearms Association
Before the House Government Oversight Committee
February 8th, 2022, 10:00 AM

Chairman Wilkin, members of the House Government Oversight Committee, I am Rob Sexton, Legislative Affairs Director for Buckeye Firearms Association.

I am here to speak as a proponent of Representative Stoltzfus’s House Bill 455, which would recognize an important distinction between intentional criminal behavior and a simple mistake. House Bill 455 is a simple and straight forward bill that would allow a person who carries a firearm in a prohibited place to go uncharged if they leave the prohibited premises when asked.

The situation addressed by HB 455 is one where no violent or criminal activity has taken place. It is simply one where a mistake has been made, with no malice or intent to do harm. For example, in many cases signs prohibiting the carrying of a firearm are not prominently displayed or are easy to miss in a crowd of customers.

Mr. Chairman, we’re at a time where it is frequently reported that our jails are over-populated, and people are over charged with crimes. It has often been stated that reforms are needed. In that vein, this legislation is an easy approach to that problem. HB 455 makes a commonsense distinction between a simple oversight and criminal intent.

HB 455 maintains criminal penalties for those who refuse of fail to leave upon being discovered and being requested to leave by the prohibited business. And it would also penalize those who return to the same business while armed within 30 days.

Also, notably, HB 455 would allow the governing body of a government facility to permit all or certain specific licensees to carry a concealed handgun into the building or any portion of the building. This continues the trend of allowing localized control of this issue, much like area businesses. And it potentially removes yet one more place where criminals know victims will be unarmed and vulnerable to attack.

For these reasons Buckeye Firearms Association asks for your support for HB 455, and passage out of this committee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.