Buckeye Firearms Assoc. Chairman Jim Irvine and attorney/ author Scott Kapas testify in support of HB495

On Tuesday, June 12, the House Committee on State Government and Elections, which is chaired by BFA "A" -rated Rep. Ron Maag, heard testimony on HB495 (Reciprocity & Concealed Carry Modernization).

HB495 makes three changes to current law:

  • Changes to automatically honor other states licenses, similar to a driver's license
  • Eliminates the "demonstrated competency" requirement for 2nd 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

This was the third hearing for this important bill.

Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine testified in support of the bill. His testimony follows:

Good afternoon Chairman Maag, and members of the House State Government and Elections Committee. I am speaking on behalf of Buckeye Firearms Association, thousands of law enforcement officers, almost 300,000 Ohio concealed handgun license (CHL) holders, and millions of gun owners from Ohio and other states who like to attend the National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry or enjoy other activities in our great state. I speak in support of House Bill 495.

House Bill 495 would make three material changes to Ohio law. We would move to "automatic reciprocity" but still allow our Attorney General to sign agreements with states that require them, delete the "demonstrated competency" requirement for renewal of CHLs, and correct the definition of a "loaded firearm."

Concerns have been raised about honoring licenses from states with no mandated training requirement for the issuance of carry licenses. The states of Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania have more than 100 years of combined experience with concealed carry. None of these states have a training requirement, nor are they having problems caused by a lack of training. None of their state legislatures are seriously considering adding training requirements because there is simply not a problem.

When Ohio passed our concealed carry law almost nine years ago, we did not follow the successful road map of states that had gone before us. We mandated 12 hours of training, including a minimum of two hours of range time, which remains among the highest requirement of any state. To that we added a "demonstrated competency" requirement for second and future renewals. There is no National Rifle Association (NRA) or Ohio Police Officers Training Academy (OPOTA) class designed for this requirement and it is not further defined in Ohio Revised Code (ORC).

Current law does not mandate any additional training, just a competency check. House Bill 495 leaves in place one of the most burdensome training requirements of any state with no reduction of required training.

A gun without bullets is an unloaded gun. A gun with bullets inserted into it becomes a loaded gun. Putting bullets in a cardboard box, a range bag, or a magazine, does not change the status of an unloaded gun. Ohio law should echo that reality. I know of no law enforcement agency that believes their officers are armed and ready by carrying around a loaded magazine with their unloaded gun. Testimony before this committee has indicated that HB495 will allow citizens without carry licenses to have loaded guns in a vehicle. HB495 would make no such change.

For perspective, a majority of states do allow persons with no training or concealed carry license to have loaded firearms in their cars. There is no huge push to change those laws and there is no compelling indication that such laws present any danger to law enforcement.

We have great faith in Ohio's peace officers and believe they are every bit as well trained, competent, and able to deal with such laws as the police in other states. But this bill has nothing to do with unlicensed persons carrying loaded guns in cars. It has everything to do with correcting an incorrect definition in Ohio law.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) made many accusations in their testimony but offered no proof. I think the FOP also misstated the LEO training requirements. Ohio has changed the re-qualification course and reduced the course of fire from 60 to 25 shots. Required training varies from year to year, but this year there is no requirement for any continued professional training.

Lastly, House Bill 495 simplifies Ohio law by defining a "concealed handgun license" in one place, eliminating the need to be re-defining it every time it is used. This alone eliminates hundreds of words from the O.R.C. without making any changes to the law. It also makes the law easier to read, understand, enforce and comply with. Surely that is something that everyone should support.

In conclusion, House Bill 495 is nothing more than common sense reform to flaws in the ORC that will protect law-abiding citizens from unwittingly becoming felons while bringing Ohio law in line with our neighboring states.

Also testifying in support of the bill was Scott Kappas, an attorney from the commonwealth of Kentucky, and author of "The Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States." His testimony follows:

My name is Scott Kappas. I am an attorney from the commonwealth of Kentucky. For the past 16 years, I have published a book entitled "The Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States." The book is updated once a year and sold nationwide. It summarizes the firearm laws for each of the states with a particular emphasis on the carry laws that most directly affect the traveler. The book is currently used by the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Park Service as an official reference guide.

The purpose of my testimony is to provide a comparative analysis of the current state of Ohio's gun laws in the two areas this committee is considering for change.

Vehicle carry of loaded magazines by non-permittees.
Ohio has the most restrictive law for vehicle carry of loaded magazines by persons who do not possess recognized carry permits. Under 2923.16 no loaded magazines may be located anywhere in a vehicle. Even a closed trunk would be off-limits under this statute. No other states have statutes this sweeping. Even states such as Illinois and Maryland, both known for firearm carry laws much stricter than Ohio, allow non-permittees to carry loaded magazines in a vehicle. Illinois allows loaded magazines to be carried in the same case as the firearms they fit. Maryland permits anyone to have a loaded magazine in a vehicle as long as the magazine is not inserted into a firearm. One state, Tennessee, prohibits loaded magazines that are in close proximity to the firearms they fit. But the state allows loaded magazines that are in the trunk or rear storage area. In addition, over 20 states allow anyone, permittee or non-permittee, to carry loaded magazines that are inserted into the handguns they fit. Some of these states restrict loaded long guns in a vehicle. But they at least allow the magazines of these long guns to remain loaded.

Automatic recognition of out-of-state carry permits.
Ohio currently requires that out-of-state carry permits only be recognized if they are issued by states with eligibility requirements that are "substantially comparable" to Ohio's standards. Concerns have been raised over recognizing permits from states that do not, for example, require training prior to the issuance of a permit. Fears abound of untrained gun carriers from less restrictive states running rampant through the Buckeye state. But, for at least the last 15 years, the neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan have recognized ALL out of state permits without regard to issuance or eligibility standards. Michigan, in particular, has very strict standards for issuance and eligibility. But the state has had no problem recognizing all out-of-state permits since 1927. Even Pennsylvania, a state that has required a permit to carry a handgun in a vehicle since the 1930s, has extended automatic recognition to all out of state permittees as long as the permittees restrict their gun carry to the interior of their vehicle. While the number of states exercising the universal recognition option is not yet a majority, the numbers have been trending in this direction for the last five years.

In closing, I would point out that Ohio's gun laws have been noticeably improved over the past 10 years. But minor carry violations based on legal nuances can still transform the otherwise law-abiding, gun-carrying citizen into a felon for going a few miles over the speed limit on his way to the grocery.

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