Dispatch: Patrol, GOP near deal on HB347

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Republican lawmakers and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) have reached a deal on how guns can be carried in vehicles, the main sticking point in a bill that, if passed, will do far more to reform Ohio's firearms laws for Ohio sportsmen and gun owners and CHL-holders than remove the ridiculous "plain sight" car carry requirement.

From the story:

    "I think we have a bill that the Second Amendment people support and that law enforcement is OK with," said Sen. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which is hearing the bill.

    The main fight centered on whether concealed-carry permit holders, while in a vehicle, should be required to carry a gun either holstered in plain view or locked away in a glove box.

    If the gun isn’t locked away, the patrol wanted the gun in plain sight to protect troopers involved in traffic stops.

    But gun-rights advocates, including bill sponsor Rep. James Aslanides, R-Coshocton, argued the plain-sight law caused logistical problems, particularly for women who carry guns in their purses rather than a holster. He also said it created unnecessary safety risks to move a gun from a holster to a glove box.

The Dispatch is reporting that the patrol now is backing away from its plain-sight requirement in exchange for an increased criminal penalty if the person fails to notify an officer that he or she is carrying a concealed gun. The penalty would go from a fourth- to a first-degree misdemeanor, with a two-year gun permit suspension.

Again, from the story:

    "Our main concern was that if they do away with the plainsight that we, as law enforcement, wanted to ensure our officers’ safety the best that we could," said Lt. Shawn Davis, of the patrol’s Office of Strategic Services.

    Davis said the patrol will take a neutral stance on the new version of the bill, to be introduced Wednesday, when a committee vote also is scheduled. An earlier version passed the House in March, 76-19.

As has been the case for several concealed-carry reform bills in the past decade, this bill has been held up in the Republican-controlled Senate for months over concerns that a Republican governor would veto the legislation (Bob Taft had threatened to veto the bill, based on opposition from the patrol, which earlier objected to proposed changes in the way people could conceal guns in their vehicles). By clearing away the OSHP's objections, indications are that the bill is headed for Governor Taft's desk.

Taft spokesman Mark Rickel offered no insight into whether the governor would support the revised measure. "It has not been a priority for the governor at this point."

The newspaper is also reporting that statewide preemption of local gun laws is expected to remain a part of the bill, but that two other provisions that were part of the House-passed version of the bill are expected to be eliminated. The first is a provision that would allow a person to get a gun CHL if his or her criminal record had been expunged, and the second is a provision that would haved allowed an intoxicated CHL-holder to give his or her gun to someone else.

Buckeye Firearms Association supporters are encouraged to continue to voice your support for this legislation to their Representative and Senator, tell them where you have concerns, and to attend Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee on Criminal Justice hearing, where a vote is likely.

Committee members are as follows:

    Jim Jordan (R-12) - Committee Chair (614) 466-7584
    Marc Dann (D-32) - Ranking Minority Member (614) 466-7182
    Patricia Clancy (R-8) - Vice Chair (614) 466-8068
    Eric H. Kearney (D-9) (614) 466-5980
    Steve Austria (R-10) (614) 466-3780
    Kimberly A. Zurz (D-28) (614) 466-7041
    Steve Stivers (R-16) (614) 466-7662
    Timothy Grendell (R-18) (614) 644-7718
    J. Kirk Schuring (R-29) (614) 466-0626

A Buckeye Firearms Association-endorsed version of House Bill 347 was passed by the Ohio House in March by a 76-19 margin.

To refresh your memory on the language and provisions contained in the House-passed version of HB347, click here.

UPDATE: The Associated Press has published a story on events related to pending movement on HB347, and provides quotes from gun ban extremist Toby Hoover threatening a legal challenge if the legislation becomes law.

Hoover's 2004 suit challenging Ohio's recentlt-enacted concealed carry law crashed and burned at the Ohio Supreme Court, and Hoover did not follow through on claims that she would refile the suit in a common pleas court.

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