Toledo Blade: Case Western killing inflames gun opponents in Senate hearing

Opponents of a bill to allow Ohioans to carry hidden handguns argued yesterday it is so vaguely worded that it could permit carrying assault weapons similar to one used last week by the Case Western Reserve University gunman.

"The gun in [the Case Western] incident that concerns us is a Cobray M-11 9-millimeter pistol, which is a banned assault weapon by name under the 1994 assault weapons bill - not banned to own, but banned to sell," said John Shanks of the Brady Campaign and Million Mom March.

"These types of weapons, like the M-11, could be legally carried in the state of Ohio if this law passes," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Criminal Justice.

The Senate is on a fast track to pass a conceal-carry bill within weeks, setting up a potential showdown with Gov. Bob Taft, who has vowed to veto it without support from major law enforcement groups.

Ohio’s bill, like the laws in most states that permit conceal-carry, generally refers to "handgun," essentially a firearm that can be carried with one hand.

"There are no restrictions in this bill on what is a handgun," said Toby Hoover of the Toledo-based Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

Biswanath Halder, 62, has been charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder for killing one person and wounding two others during Friday night’s rampage at Case Western in Cleveland. The second weapon he carried was a Ruger 9-millimeter handgun.

"[The Cobray] was banned in 1994 and is an illegal weapon, but that didn’t change the outcome one bit at Case Western," said Jim Irvine of Ohioans for Concealed Carry. "He didn’t follow that law. Neither did he follow the current law on carrying concealed weapons. The university prohibits bringing weapons onto campus, so he violated that law, as well as numerous other laws on discharging weapons and injuring people.

"The idea that changing House Bill 12 would have any impact on what he did or anyone like him is preposterous," he said. "The types of people who commit these crimes are not law-abiding."

Ohio is one of four states without some system for allowing its average citizens to carry concealed handguns.

Several law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, are expected to testify next week. The FOP last session dropped its opposition to the bill when the Senate made a number of changes, a move Mr. Taft said brought him "very close" to agreeing to a conceal-carry compromise.

Many of those changes, however, angered nearly every gun-rights group except the National Rifle Association and are not a part of this year’s House-passed bill.

Click here for the entire story in the Toledo Blade.

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