November 20, 2003
GONGWER News Service

A new threat from Governor Bob Taft to veto a carrying concealed weapons bill because of a permit privacy provision was met with a mixture of disbelief and defiance Thursday from supporters of the legislation who said Mr. Taft's demand was not one on which they could compromise.

Mr. Taft's long-held position has been that he could not support a measure (HB 12) that would let law-abiding, trained Ohioans obtain permits to carry concealed weapons unless it had the endorsement of law enforcement.

The governor for the first time added a second condition in a letter to House and Senate leaders this week in which he said a gun licensee's "basic identifying information" including name, date of birth and county of residence should be considered public information. However, he said some other information gathered in the application process that would reflect mental illness, substance abuse or certain other conditions should be kept confidential.

"Several news organizations have brought to my attention their concern about the public records provisions contained within (the bill)," Mr. Taft said in a letter Tuesday to Senate President Doug White (R-Manchester) and House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford). The governor said he had examined the provisions "more carefully," and compared them to public records provisions in the concealed carry laws of other states, as well as with Ohio's current public records law. "Based on this review, I write to express my concern about the public records provisions in Sub. H.B. 12, and ask that the conference committee make changes to the bill."

Conference Committee Chairman Rep. James Aslanides (R-Coshocton) appeared incredulous at the governor's action. "I don't believe it. The governor has been clear for five years on his position and that is, it must pass the law enforcement test. I think my amendments will answer the concerns of the highway patrol and get us through this," he said. "To all of a sudden come up with public records, since it's been in the bill since 1995, is confusing and unbelievable. It's a dramatic shift of an entire position that the people of Ohio have heard from him."

The letter to legislative leaders does not use the word "veto," and Rep. Aslanides wondered if the threat came "truly from him or his staff." Orest Holubec, the governor's spokesman, indicated the veto threat was implicit through Mr. Taft's request in the letter that the conference committee change the bill.

Senator White said Thursday he was "very disappointed" the matter was not brought to his attention before the first meeting of the conference committee Tuesday.

Conferees agreed to limit their discussions to two disputed sections of the bill dealing with transportation of guns in vehicles and affirmative defenses. "We're sticking to it," Senator White said through spokeswoman Maggie Mitchell "We're going to continue with the conference committee as planned and focus on those two areas of difference and get the bill, we hope. That (records) provision will not be part of the discussions," Ms. Mitchell said.

Rep. Aslanides, sponsor of the legislation, agreed the conference committee would move forward as planned. "Concealed weapons means concealed identity. You don't have concealed carry without concealed identity," he said. "You can't publicly put names of people in the paper who have permits to carry. It's completely against the entire principle of deterring crime with a concealed weapons law."

Click here to read Taft's office claim he isn't opposed to concealed carry (a Gannett News story).

Click here to read the same ridiculous claim made in the Columbus Dispatch.

Commentary by Chad D. Baus:

Senate President White and other Republican Senators who voiced reluctance to override a Taft veto, have now been lied to by the Governor they worked for four months to defend, at the cost of many reputations as a pro-gun leaders. Judging by his comments, President White realizes this now.

The knife in his back was driven even deeper because Taft did not inform White of his pending move before President White spoke in conference committee on Tuesday. In that meeting, White agreed to follow Article 19 of the Commitee Rules, which forbid the committee from addressing anything but differences between the two versions of the bill.

White said even more than that on Tuesday. In his statements, he said that "the debate has been going on for a decade, and it is time to finish it -- with or without the governor's help."

"We on the Senate side feel we are very close in agreement," Senator White said. "To have carried the ball 99 yards and fumble on the one yard line is not what this committee should be about."

Now that Taft has proven no allegiance to White, White should no longer act upon any former allegiances to Taft.

Senator Doug White could go miles in the direction of recovering the faith of pro-self-defense Ohioans by pushing ahead with plans to pass the best possible compromise, voting it out on the floor in December, and send it to Taft's desk.

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