Columbus Dispatch: House unlikely to reconvene unless Taft signals approval

This story in the Dispatch outlines OFCC's key reason for opposing this amended Substitute bill - a highly dangerous "safe storage" poison pill inserted by Senator Jacobson at the demands of Gov. Taft.

"Legislation permitting many Ohioans to carry concealed weapons appears to be within an inch of being enacted -- but it might as well be a mile."

"The main stumbling block involves guns in cars. The House version, adopted March 21, would have allowed loaded weapons to be carried on the front seat of a vehicle. A late amendment in the Senate committee would require that the gun be either in a glove compartment or in a container that is locked, latched or zipped."

"Not good enough, the patrol said."

"'We do not want a loaded firearm accessible to a driver,''' Patrol Capt. John Born said."

"Taft spokesman Jon Allison said: "'If the patrol has a concern about a loaded weapon in a vehicle, then the governor has a concern as well. They've come a long way. We're just not there yet."

Click here to read the entire Columbus Dispatch story (subscription site - paid access only), OR read below for an archived version of the story.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Lee Leonard
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Legislation permitting many Ohioans to carry concealed weapons appears to be within an inch of being enacted -- but it might as well be a mile.

The Ohio Senate yesterday adopted, 20 to 11, its own version of House Bill 274, but House Speaker Larry Householder refuses to recall the House to ratify the changes unless he is assured that Gov. Bob Taft will sign the bill.

A spokesman for Taft said the governor is still opposed, based on a State Highway Patrol objection to a provision that permits motorists to carry loaded weapons in their vehicles.

Unless something changes in the next week, the bill would be dead for this two-year legislative session, which expires Dec. 31. Another bill could be introduced in January.

The Senate also approved and sent to the governor a $1.27 billion, two-year construction appropriation and a compromise medical-malpractice insurance bill that doctors sought to slow the growth of premiums.

Sen. Jeff Jacobson, R-Vandalia, tailored the concealed-weapons bill to the wishes of the Fraternal Order of Police and the governor. The state FOP changed its position from opposition to neutrality, and the final version contains a half-dozen provisions requested by Taft.

But the main stumbling block involves guns in cars. The House version, adopted March 21, would have allowed loaded weapons to be carried on the front seat of a vehicle. A late amendment in the Senate committee would require that the gun be either in a glove compartment or in a container that is locked, latched or zipped.

Not good enough, the patrol said.

"We do not want a loaded firearm accessible to a driver,'' Patrol Capt. John Born said.

Taft spokesman Jon Allison said: "If the patrol has a concern about a loaded weapon in a vehicle, then the governor has a concern as well. They've come a long way. We're just not there yet.''

Jennifer Detwiler, a spokeswoman for Householder, said, "We have no plans to come back.'' A return to Columbus would be considered if Taft promises that he would sign the Senate version, she said.

The House still would have to agree to the Senate changes. Rep. Jim Aslanides, R-Coshocton, the bill's sponsor, said he thinks the House would accept the changes -- but only if the governor also would approve.

As passed by the Senate, the bill would allow Ohioans, 21 and older, to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun after clearing a background check that includes fingerprinting and passing a certified 16-hour training course in gun handling and safety.

Individuals with felony convictions would not be eligible for a permit, nor would those with a history of mental illness. In deference to Taft, the Senate eliminated a provision that would have allowed a psychologist to certify an individual mentally competent for a permit.

The guns would be permitted only in certain places, and the list of prohibited areas grew longer in the Senate, which added sports facilities and all public buildings to satisfy the governor. Other gun-free areas include school zones, day-care centers, places of worship, rooms where alcohol is served, and college and university campuses. A gun could be brought to the campus, however, if locked in a motor vehicle.

The Senate version would allow owners to forbid guns on private property. A business owner could post a sign to keep loaded weapons out of a parking lot, and if the policy extends indoors, would have to post signs at each entrance. If asked to leave, a permit-holder would have to comply or face a penalty of up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Jacobson and Sen. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, said the bill would enable Ohioans, especially women, to exercise their constitutional rights and protect themselves and their families.

But Sen. Ben Espy, D-Columbus, called it a "macho bill'' that is unnecessary.

"Why are we passing this bill?'' he asked. "So we can carry our gun with our telephone here, our pager here and our backpack here? It's just another toy we can put in our arsenal.''

Sen. Priscilla D. Mead, R-Upper Arlington, was one of three Republicans to vote against the bill, saying people in her district also oppose it and that the training requirement is "inconsequential.''

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