Gannett News Service: ''Work continues on concealed-carry bill''

COLUMBUS -- Sen. Steve Austria still thinks a compromise on Ohio's concealed handgun bill is out there waiting to be discovered.

As the Legislature takes time off this summer, the Beavercreek Republican has sent bill revisions to the Ohio House and governor's office in hopes of breaking the stalemate that has put the bill's fate in jeopardy.

"I'm still optimistic we might be able to do something in this general assembly," Austria said.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

The bill, which would allow anyone older than [21] who completes training and a criminal background check to acquire a permit to carry a concealed handgun, passed the House and Senate earlier this year.

But the House has refused to accept the Senate version, opposing a provision that eliminates a person's ability to carry a gun in a vehicle without a permit. Current law allows a concealed handgun if the person's life is in danger because he or she performs a dangerous job.

That exception, known as affirmative defense, was eliminated for vehicles at the request of the State Highway Patrol. If the patrol doesn't support the bill, Gov. Bob Taft has said he will veto it.

Austria is proposing a temporary gun permit, where a person who suddenly has to start transporting money or performing another dangerous job can quickly get permission to carry a gun in a vehicle.

He also is proposing lowering the age limit for car occupants that triggers when a gun must be locked up in a car. The bill currently sets that at anyone under age 18, but Austria has suggested going to age 16.

But Jim Aslanides, R-Coshocton, the sponsor of the gun bill, said the proposal for a temporary gun permit is unacceptable.

"I wouldn't support any measure whatsoever that doesn't restore affirmative defense, period," he said.

"You have that right today. You can do your best to try and close that big loophole (in the bill), but it's still a loophole, even with a temporary permit."

OFCC PAC Commentary:
We truly welcome Sen. Austria's attempts to find a solution to the mess that has been created by Republican leadership and Gov. Taft. We view this news as ecouraging, and do not wish to discourage his efforts.

However, Rep. Aslanides is 100% correct in continuing to demand the full restoration of the right to claim an affirmative defense if arrested for carrying in a vehicle without a permit.

Furthermore, we do not believe that changing Taft's "Carjacker Protection" provision to render parents of children 16-and-younger (instead of 18) defenseless is any less egregious. Was the life of Tony Gordon's 13 year-old nephew any less worth protecting than if he had been 16?

Some states, like Florida, do not have ANY permit or training requirements to carry a firearm for self-defense in one's vehicle. The Ohio Senate has already inserted the most extensive training requirement in the nation. Yet the Senate's leadership, at the demand of Gov. Taft's, is still insisting that Ohio parents can't be trusted to carry even with training. Do they truly believe we are less responsible than citizens in other states?

Once again, cudos to Sen. Austria for responding to the grassroots tidal wave which has continued to pound the Senate this summer. But until Senate leadership is willing to stop considering the anti-self-defense demands of Gov. Taft (which Sen. Pres. White commited to in an April 30 Gongwer News story), it is unlikely the Senate will find any compromise which truly reforms (for the better) Ohio's self-defense laws.

Click here to read the full story in today's Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, a Gannett-owned newspaper.

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