HB347 & HB541: Stalled until fall

As part of a deal to get Ken Blackwell's TEL amendment (see: The Devil is in the Details - Sportsmen Beware of TEL) off of the ballot this November, the legislature worked late into the afternoon on Tuesday to pass a statutory version of the TEL that was purported to have eliminated some of the concerns with the proposed constitutional amendment, which politicos had increasingly come to view as an albatross around the neck of Blackwell's gubernatorial chances.

In doing so, the General Assembly's GOP caucus proved that, when it so desires, it can move legislation at lightning speed. The Columbus Dispatch notes that the House and Senate approved the TEL bill in less than 26 hours. Yet unfortunately for Ohio gun owners, it is apparent after the events of this week (the Senate will adjourn today for the summer) that caucus leaders do not put saving lives in the same category as saving political fortunes.

Click on "Read More' for the full report.

Because floor jockeying over the statutory TEL ran late into the day on Tuesday, Rep. Steve Buehrer's Castle Doctrine/ Stand Your Ground legislation, HB541, did not receive its scheduled hearing Tuesday. Ohioans will now have to wait that much longer before they have any hope of restoring the presumption of innocence to those who act in self-defense.

Even more disappointingly, HB347, which passed overwhelmingly in the Ohio House with bi-partisan support, and which has been in the Senate for nearly three months, was not given a committee vote in a hearing on Wednesday. The bill has now had so many hearings that no verbal testimony was even offered at Wednesday's hearing. Buckeye Firearms Association has forwarded hundreds of letters from concerned citizens on HB347 in the past few days alone. One has to wonder how many legislators received about the TEL?

The failure of Senate leaders to prioritize HB347 this spring (and keeping in mind the 90-day delay between when bills are signed and when they become law) means that even assuming HB347 is passed in late 2006:

  • Ohio's 70,000+ CHL-holders will now face another winter of having to choose between wearing a coat or being accused of violating the ridiculous "plain sight" provision (don't even get us started on how difficult "plain sight" is for women).
  • Ohio's 400,000+ hunters must now endure another deer season of traveling through hundreds of different jurisdictions with thousands of different ordinances addressing possession and transportation of firearms, which they are unknowingly in violation of.
  • Ohio's CHL applicants will face a third year of extremely limited office hours at sheriff's offices.

    This bill was already delayed nearly 6 months on the House side over "timing" concerns. Ohio gun owners who recall how terribly HB12 was modified after a long summer recess and during a lame-duck session back in 2004 will likely find it extremely difficult to justify volunteering for re-election campaigns for many of these Senators this fall. Gun owners have been laboring under our current law for far too long, and it simply is not acceptable for them to have held this vote up for the fall elections. Each day that passes is another day that an innocent gun owner risks becoming an accidental felon.

    There is no serious debate on the need for this bill or the changes contained therein. The anti-gun testimony was wrong 10 years ago, it was wrong 5 years ago, it was wrong 3 years ago and it is wrong today. In short, there was no legitimate reason to have shelved HB347.

    Please contact your state Senator and ask them to encourage Ohio Senate President Bill Harris (pictured as he recently appeared in a reading promotion for Richland County libraries, holding Charlton Heston's autobiography, In The Arena) to schedule a vote on HB347 at the first session upon which they return, which the Columbus Dispatch reports is currently scheduled for August.

    Senate President Harris' contact information is as follows:

      Telephone: 614-466-8086
      [email protected]
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