AP: House, Senate pass concealed weapons bill that Taft will sign

FINAL REVISION

By JOHN McCARTHY
The Associated Press
1/8/2004, 12:39 a.m. ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gun owners who have waited years for the ability to carry hidden weapons will come back to the Legislature to gain back the concessions that helped the bill pass and made it attractive to Gov. Bob Taft, a lawmaker who opposes the idea says.

The Legislature on Wednesday approved the bill and sent it to Taft, who said he would sign it. The Senate vote was 25-8, and the House vote was 69-24. The vote marked the first time the Legislature and the governor's office have agreed to a deal after a decade of debate on the highly contentious issue.

One of the "no" votes came from Sen. Eric Fingerhut, a Cleveland Democrat who has fought against conceal-carry since returning to the Ohio Senate in 1999. He accused Taft of "caving in" to the gun lobby and predicted that gun owners had nothing to fear from Taft if they go back to lawmakers for more changes.

Fingerhut said provisions that allow reporters to learn permit-holder's names, keep guns out of places like schools and day-care centers and allow police to see the weapon of a motorist in a traffic stop will not be in the law for long.

"They're straight up about it. Gun owners wanted to make any compromise necessary to get this bill into law and then they'll go back and chip away at it," Fingerhut said after the Senate vote. "The governor has already shown that he can be rolled."

Taft will keep a close eye on any legislation that may alter the bill, spokesman Orest Holubec said.

"Any legislative action taken to change any of these provisions ... would have to meet with his approval," Holubec said.

The bill makes the names of permit holders in each county available to reporters who ask a sheriff's department for the names. Taft's insistence on this provision derailed the bill late last year after House lawmakers balked.

But House Speaker Larry Householder this week agreed to go along with the requirement, which the Ohio Senate had already informally agreed to.

Taft said the bill was a reasonable compromise that would help Ohioans to protect themselves.

"House Bill 12 balances the Second Amendment rights I have strongly supported with public safety and public records concerns. I look forward to signing it," Taft said in a statement.

Householder, a Glenford Republican, said changes by future legislatures were likely.

"It's comparable to any legislation. It's always subject to change. We've got a great history in the General Assembly of having a lot of responsibility, a lot of accountability," he said.

Taft had long said he would only sign the bill if law enforcement supported it. As that backing fell into place, he raised the issue of public records, leading some supporters to accuse him of looking for reasons to veto the bill.

Ohio would become the 46th state to allow carrying concealed weapons in some form.

The issue has been in the Legislature since 1995, when the Senate passed a bill sponsored by then-Sen. Joseph Vukovich, a Youngstown Democrat. However, it stalled in the House because of opposition from Republican Gov. George Voinovich and then-Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, a suburban Columbus Republican. Two other bills died under Davidson.

The issue was revived with the election of Taft, who promised during his first campaign for governor that he would sign a bill supported by law enforcement.

In 2001, competing bills were introduced. One of the bills, which carried almost no restrictions, received only one hearing while the other stalled when talks broke down between the governor's office and the Legislature.

In the Legislature, the issue has not been partisan but rather a debate between urban lawmakers, whose districts have higher crime rates, and rural and suburban lawmakers who say their constituents need guns for protection.

Media outlets which picked up various versions of AP coverage:

Akron Beacon-Journal: Concealed Ohio guns to be legal

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Ohio Legislature Passes Weapons Bill

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Ohio Legislature Passes Weapons Bill

Guardian Unlimited (UK): Ohio Legislature Passes Weapons Bill

NBC 4(Columbus): House, Senate Pass Concealed Weapons Bill

Newsday: Ohio Legislature Passes Weapons Bill

New Philadelphia (OH) Times Reporter: Gun bill passes -- Taft to sign conceal-carry into law

Ohio News Network: House & Senate Pass Concealed Carry Bill

San Francisco Chronicle: Ohio Legislature passes concealed weapons bill

Warren (OH) Tribune Chronicle: Taft to sign hidden gun bill

WBKN FOX TV (Youngstown): Concealed Weapons

WHIO TV (Dayton): Ohio House And Senate Approve Concealed Weapons Bill

Wired News: Ohio Legislature Passes Weapons Bill

WTOL Toledo (CBS 11): Concealed Weapons Bill

WTVG Toledo (13 ABC): Ohio Concealed Carry Bill

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