A Buckeye survives a trip down south
By Ken Hanson
It is that time of year again - time to pack up the family in the minivan and head south for some quality time. The vacation this year was to Gatlinburg, ("We have more mini-golf courses per acre than any other place on the planet") Tennessee. As my vacation last year had resulted in my first ever armed encounter with a criminal, I dutifully charted out my course on a map and made a list of the other states I would need to check for CCW regulations.
Let's see, first state is Kentucky. Check the websites....oh dear, that cannot be right. No restrictions on car carry? Surely their State
Police must be in a titter over that, given what the Ohio Highway Patrol has been telling me. Checking further....nope. In fact, Kentucky has
just passed several pieces of RTC legislation, including a law that forbids employers from banning guns on company property. Gasp! I am
surely taking my family's safety for granted if I drive through a state like that.
Next state is Tennessee. I'm sure there is a problem with the Internet.......the Volunteer State has no car carry restrictions either! How will I navigate through two state's worth of Trooper's bodies that surely results from such haphazard "restrictions," especially since I am
not required to even notify an officer I am carrying a handgun if I am pulled over? Even worse, Tennessee has complete preemption of firearms
laws! How ever will I be safe without each municipality passing (often conflicting) ordinances on what is and isn't legal for the 1.5 miles I will be in the city limits?
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Despite my misgivings, it turns out that I was able to drive through both states without any problem at all. In fact, it was a delight to carry for a week without having to check compliance with a boatload of absurd regulations.
This is profoundly bad news for the (unelected, unaccountable political leadership of) the Ohio State Highway Patrol. I, like thousands of other law abiding Ohio CHLs, have traveled out-of-state since April 8, 2004. It turns out that the Ohio Highway Patrol is conclusively wrong when it comes to CCW. Based on experiences in other states, it seems that allowing the OSHP input on CCW makes as much sense as allowing Budweiser to write 12 step programs.
Think about it. Every other state that has adopted shall-issue has moved towards Alaska-style laws, not California-style laws. Even members of the Ohio Senate are willing to concede this point. However, rather than borrowing from the experiences of other states, Ohio would rather reinvent the square wheel at the insistence of the OSHP.
So, having had the benefit of traveling in many other states while armed but not burdened by Ohio's laws, the Ohio gun owner is crying "BS" to
the OSHP's objections to reform as contained in Sub. H.B. 347. Rightfully so.
For the benefit of those who do not follow this issue as closely as I do, here is a brief Socratic exercise.
Ohio is in the small minority of states that require a license holder who is armed to notify a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop. Despite presenting no case at all that this is a problem in Ohio, the OSHP is seeking increased penalties for failing to notify a law enforcement officer during a stop. This is because: 1.) It is an officer safety issue, or 2.) It is a source of easy criminal charges
against the unwary gun owner, making it easier for the OSHP to point to "law breaking" license holders as future General Assembly sessions consider CCW reform.
Ohio is in a minority of one that require a license holder to handle their firearm each and every time they get in and out of a car. Despite clear evidence that handling a firearm unnecessarily increases the risk of accidents (ask your police departments how many bullet holes enter
*into* a police cruiser versus *exit* a police cruiser,) and the experiences of every other state, the OSHP is vigorously opposing reform on this issue and instead wants to create new felonies for car carry. This is because: 1.) It is an officer safety issue, or 2.) It is a source of easy criminal charges against the unwary gun owner, making it
easier for the OSHP to point to "law breaking" license holders as future General Assembly sessions consider CCW reform, or 3.) They are looking to create instances of guns discharging while license holders are getting into and out of cars, making it easier for the OSHP to point to
"reckless" license holders as future General Assembly sessions consider CCW reform, or 4.) 2 and 3.
The majority of states allow ANYONE, WITH OR WITHOUT A LICENSE, to carry a loaded handgun in a car so long as it is in a holster, on your person,
and in plain sight. Ohio is the only state to require 12 hours of training and a burdensome licensing process to do so. This is because: 1.) It is an officer safety issue, or 2.) It is a way to make the
process so idiotic that, despite the original flood of applications, a large percentage of license holders will end up not carrying, thus not renewing, thus decreasing the number of licensees in the state, making it easier for the OSHP to point to the "low numbers" of license holders as evidence of the lack of interest in the issue. (Hint: the first
batch of renewals falls in the next General Assembly session when, per conventional wisdom, we will have a pro-gun Governor one way or another and the OSHP won't have de facto control of CCW reform.)
Rather than insult the intelligence of the reader further, I would just state one rule: If other states have tried, and discarded, what the OSHP is lobbying for, the OSHP is wrong and the other state is right. There is nothing unique about Ohio compared to Indiana, other than the fact that Indiana adopted CCW about the same time (within 2 years) that they created a state police force. In the 70+ years that Indiana has enjoyed CCW, no license holder has ever shot a police officer. QUITE
THE CONTRARY, the Indiana State Police have the same number of officers lost to gunfire during traffic stops as the OSHP has, and (shockingly)
the gunfire came from criminals, not license-holders. Indiana has enjoyed CCW since the inception of their state police. Indiana's legislative session just concluded with laws that made CCW licenses good for life and adopting castle doctrine. Ohio, on the other hand, continues to listen to the unelected, unaccountable civil servants at the OSHP.
I sure hope State Troopers like putting up yard signs, phone banking, literature dropping, making political donations, attending fund raisers, etc. Someone needs to pick up the slack, because the Ohio gun owner is conclusively staying home until the Ohio Senate stops listening to the smoke-on-the-wind objections coming from the OSHP.
Ken Hanson is Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair and author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws.
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