Buckeye Firearms Assoc. leaders testify on HB 425 (Duty to Notify)
On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the House Federalism Committee heard testimony on HB 425 (Duty to Notify).
HB 425 CHL NOTIFICATION (WIGGAM, S.)
To modify the requirement that a concealed handgun licensee must notify a law enforcement officer that the licensee is authorized to carry a concealed handgun and is carrying a concealed handgun when stopped.
Current law states that if you have a concealed handgun license (CHL) and are carrying a handgun, you must "promptly" notify a law enforcement officer who stops you for any official purpose. But when is "promptly"? This is confusing and can lead to misunderstandings during encounters with law enforcement.
As introduced, HB 425 would modify this rule to clarify when and how to notify to avoid confusion.
As BFA reported before the hearing, there were plans to introduce an amendment during the hearing to remove the duty to notify unless law enforcement specifically asks if the CHL-holder are carrying a firearm. However, the committee chair later announced that amendments would not be considered this week. BFA would support this amendment if introduced.
From Gongwer News Service's coverage of the hearing:
The effort (HB 425) would change the current requirement that permit holders promptly inform officers during a stop if they have a gun with a requirement that they provide that information before or at the time the officer asks for a driver's license. It also changes the penalties from a first-degree misdemeanor to an unclassified misdemeanor and fine of up to $25.
Some advocates told the House Federalism Committee that lawmakers should just get rid of the notification requirement altogether. Others voiced support for the changes in the proposal, saying notification is still needed.
Sean Maloney, with Buckeye Firearms Association, said people who are carrying openly are guilty of carrying a concealed firearm if they improperly transport it in a vehicle.
The responsibility to inform law enforcement officers that they are carrying does not apply to people who are not legally carrying a firearm, he said. The way the law is written creates "vast confusion," he said. Most people are not pulled over often and people forget about their duty to notify.
Jim Irvine said the current law is flawed because the disclosure requirement was inserted as a "poison pill" to complicate the enforcement of it. Enforcement is not common because the law is "ridiculous," he said, but it still happens sometimes at the discretion of law enforcement.
"I think the solution is to fix a defective law," he said.
Aaron Kirkingburg, a concealed carry holder and firearms instructor, also voiced concerns with the interpretation of the duty to notify "promptly." He said a student of his was in an automobile accident and informed the first four officers to arrive on the scene, but failed to notify the fifth officer who arrived, more than 45 minutes later.
"This final officer that arrived on the scene decided that this was not a lawful act that this concealed carry holder had participated in," he said.
Click here to listen to the entire hearing at OhioChannel.org.
Currently, 41 states have laws with no duty to notify unless specifically asked, something officers are already trained to do. If 41 of 50 states have no duty to notify, there is obviously no safety issue for law enforcement. They are trained to assume citizens may be in possession of firearms. States with no duty to notify unless specifically asked by law enforcement include California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York, which have some of the strictest firearm laws in the country.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.