Blade: Lawmakers press gun bill as Taft vows to veto; override possible

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is not opposed to the bill that is now headed to Gov. Taft's desk. Neither is the FOP. The state's most powerful law enforcement group, the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association, is in full support.

But as we've been warning for months, working to remove opposition from law enforcement groups wouldn't stop Bob Taft's opposition in the end, because he'd find some other way to raise the bar.

December 11, 2003

COLUMBUS - After a decade of hitting a wall in the governor’s office, a defiant General Assembly was poised last night to send Gov. Bob Taft a controversial bill to allow Ohioans to legally carry concealed handguns.

Governor Taft vowed to veto the bill.

A joint House-Senate conference committee, which had been sitting on the bill since late June, voted 5-1 to send both chambers a bill that infuriates not only anti-gun activists but also the most ardent of gun-rights supporters who argue it is too restrictive.

Talks between legislative leaders and Governor Taft’s office fell apart last night, primarily over the issue of whether the list of persons given permits to carry hidden handguns should be public record.

House Speaker Larry Householder (R., Glenford) said he has enough votes to override the veto in the House, but there were questions whether that would also be true in the Senate.

For several years, Governor Taft and Gov. George Voinovich before him have threatened to veto a concealed-carry bill. Mr. Taft has demanded such a bill win the support of law enforcement.

Mr. Taft declined to talk about the discussions yesterday, telling reporters, "You’re trying to uproot the plant while it’s being planted."

The National Rifle Association was pleased that Ohio was heading in the direction of 45 other states in allowing residents to carry concealed guns.

"Some of the provisions are more stringent than in other states, and you’ll have those even in the Statehouse who believe this is too restrictive," said NRA spokesman John Hohenwarter. "But the bottom line is it’s a shall-issue bill: You pass the background check, you meet the training requirements, you get a license....

"That’s what we’ve been trying to do here for 10 years," he said.

Under the bill, an Ohioan who is at least 21, has lived in the state at least 45 days, completes 12 hours of training, and passes criminal and mental-health background checks would be eligible for concealed-carry permits to be issued by county sheriffs.

Toby Hoover of the Toledo-based Coalition Against Gun Violence said the group would consider it a broken promise if Governor Taft should sign the bill without the support, not just the acquiescence, of major law-enforcement groups.

"We have to keep reminding the governor that the only people who support this bill are the Buckeye Sheriffs [Association]," she said. "There’s no other support from law enforcement. We haven’t heard anyone say it’s a great idea."

The Ohio Highway Patrol remained neutral on the bill, despite changes made by the conference committee that affected the way guns may be carried in cars and trucks.

As passed last night, the bill would allow guns to be locked in glove compartments, locked in a secure box, or holstered on the permit-holder. During traffic stops, a permit-holder must inform the police officer that he is carrying a firearm.

The final dispute with the governor’s office appeared to be the public-record issue. The bill that passed last night would allow reporters to receive information about whether a specific individual has a permit. The list as a whole, however, would not be publicly available.

Click here to read the story in the Toledo Blade.

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