Guest Op-Ed: Concealed Carry – As Good As It Gets

2004 OFCC PAC endorsee Jean Schmidt (currently a state representative), is running to replace Senator Doug White in District 14.

Guest Column
By State Representative Jean Schmidt
January 12, 2004

Do you remember the movie As Good as it Gets? The message of the film was that we seldom get what we want and usually settle for a lot less due to circumstances we cannot control. The same could be said when passing legislation, especially House Bill 12, Ohio’s new Concealed Carry Law.

For thirty years members of the legislature have attempted to pass a concealed carry law and, until now, all efforts had failed regardless which political party was in the majority. And this year, it nearly slipped through our fingers yet again.

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On December 10 both chambers of the legislature passed a conference report – a compromise, if you will – on the bill, even though we were well aware of the Governor’s intent to veto it. After late night discussions, we were assured by the leadership of both houses that there would be enough votes to override his veto. Curiously enough, less than 24 hours after we passed HB 12, the Senate did not have the votes to override a veto. Yet the House held firm and appeared to have the votes. However, without the Senate doing its part our vote to override would be meaningless.

Speaker Householder did not want to put our members in the position to anger the Governor, while the Senate was not doing the same. And so, the Speaker decided to delay signing the bill to try to work out another compromise. Procedurally a bill does not reach the Governor’s desk until both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House sign the bill. This gave the legislature the opportunity to modify the bill to meet the Governor’s demand, specifically that the records as to who had a concealed carry permit would be open to the media. When we returned back this week after Christmas break we were given the choice to give in to the Governors demand or not have a concealed carry law at all.

The discussions in caucus were lively. Like most of my colleagues, I was disappointed with our Governor and with the decision we had to make. The reality was that Ohio would never get a concealed carry law under this Governor and no one can predict how a future Governor would stand on this issue. Like the movie, this was as good as it would get.

Here are the specifics: House Bill 12 gives law-abiding citizens the right to carry a concealed gun. An applicant must apply for a permit at the local sheriff’s office. All 88 county sheriff departments are required to issue the permit to approved applicants who have gone through fire arm training and a background check.

Under the new law, training is required for all permit holders, and that training must be updated every six years. License renewal is required every four years. Additionally, temporary permits may be issued for individuals who have reasonable cause to fear criminal attack, including those who currently hold court ordered restraining orders, and those temporary permits are good for 90 days.

For safety sake, HB 12 prohibits permit holders from carrying a concealed weapon in public buildings, churches, liquor establishments, schools and day care centers. A citizen may carry a gun in their car if the gun is in a holster, in a locked compartment or case or is in plain sight.

Like you, I believe this legislation is a little less than perfect. So why pass such a bill? By having a concealed carry law in Ohio, legislators both present and future have an opportunity to improve on this law. We could have just waited for a better day to pass a perfect bill but let’s face it, that day might never come.

The good news is the Governor has signed this bill and in mid-April Ohioans will have the right to carry a gun if they so choose. Our actions on this measure have made Ohio the 46th state to offer citizens the ability to exercise their 2nd Amendment right – the right to bear arms. That’s something we have waited a long time for – and right now, it’s as good as it gets.

You may reach Jean Schmidt by e-mail at district [email protected], or write 77 S. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 or call 614-466-8134.

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