Dayton Daily News (accidentally) educates readers on need for national reciprocity law

By Chad D. Baus

While it obviously wasn't the intent of Dayton Daily News reporter Laura Bischoff, whose most memorable gun-related story came after passage of Ohio's concealed carry law in 2004, when Bischoff suggested that the "gun lobby" bought the law by outspending gun control extremists, a pair of stories on the subject of out-of-state licenses are serving to expose the need for a national concealed handgun license reciprocity law to many who are not aware of the trials gun owners face every day in trying to follow the law.

From the first story, entitled Utah's 'quickie' concealed-carry permit OK in Ohio:

If the 12-hour required class to get an Ohio concealed weapons permit seems too burdensome, take the Utah course.

It takes about four hours and you don't have to leave Ohio or fire a gun. In 2004, Ohio signed a reciprocity agreement with Utah so the two states honor one another's CCW permits.

Toby Hoover, of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said Ohio's 12-hour training requirement is not too much to ask.

"You have something in your hand, walking around among the rest of us, that has the potential to take a life," she said.

Ohio issues permits to Ohio residents, 21 or older, who pass a criminal background check, complete 12 hours of training — including two hours of shooting — and meet other requirements.

Utah issues permits to adults who pass a background check and complete a course, according to Utah Department of Public Safety Lt. Doug Anderson.

Assertions that persons carrying a concealed handgun on an out-of-state license are somehow presenting a safety concern to Ohioans because they have had less training is preposterous. Not only did Bischoff fail to provide a single example of a problem in her story, but two of Ohio's neighbors, Indiana and Pennsylvania, require ZERO training before issuing a concealed carry license to their citizens, and headlines in those states are not screaming about negligent discharges, "bad shoots", etc.

The newspaper is no-doubt hopeful that many will imagine there are thousands upon thousands of Ohioans carrying here via on a Utah license, noting that the state has issued 148,663 Utah Concealed Firearms Permits, including 55,888 to out-of-state residents. But the process for obtaining certification to teach courses that would qualify a person for a Utah license has recently made much more difficult, and Anderson told the DDN that Utah now has only about 600 certified out-of-state instructors nationwide.

In the past, Utah offered a relatively easy route to instructor certification. However, several years ago the requirements for becoming a certified Utah instructor were modified, and now include attending an Instructor training course offered only by the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (click here for details). Most all of these are only offered in Utah, so many past Utah certified instructors have left their certifications expire. Others have considered bringing a Utah BCI instructors to the Buckeye State to conduct the required training, but that idea has not been cost effective, due mainly to the small demand for Utah licenses by Ohio residents.

Again, from the story:

John Farquhar of Mad Duck Firearms Training in Preble County, who is certified to teach the Utah course, said a small segment of his students want the quicker Utah course so that they can legally carry concealed weapons in Ohio.

But some add the Utah license because Utah has reciprocity agreements with more states and as a result they can carry concealed weapons in a wider area, he said.

Ohio has reciprocity agreements with 18 states; Utah has 28.

While Ohio has reciprocity agreements with 18 states, Bischoff's story does not say is that Ohio CHL-holders can carry in additional 7 states under their laws, even though Ohio law prohibits their residents from carrying here.

The story concludes by illustrating how important the office of attorney general is to the future of concealed carry reciprocity in Ohio:

Ohio law permits the attorney general to sign agreements with states that have CCW requirements "substantially comparable" to Ohio.

Hoover said state Attorney General Richard Cordray should cancel the reciprocity agreement with Utah. Cordray's spokeswoman said he favors reasonable reciprocal agreements and is "getting up to date" on the existing ones.

During the 2006 election, Cordray observed that "with Ted (Strickland,) Marc (Dann) and myself on the ticket, I think it is legitimate to say that part of the Democrat's resurgence in Ohio is demonstrating that we, as a party, are running candidates who support gun rights. The concealed carry law, which I support, is an excellent example of how the 'wild, wild west' predictions were way off base, and it isn't the law abiding citizen gun owner that we should be worried about."

However, as this story illustrates, if some future attorney general wanted to, they could overturn many existing reciprocity agreements on a whim. This is one reason why a national reciprocity law is so essential. Until such a law is passed, and no matter what side of the political spectrum Ohio CHL-holders are on, it is absolutely essential that they vote for a pro-gun attorney general, whether they are members of the same political party or not.

Yet another reason for which national reciprocity legislation should be passed at the Federal level is illustrated in a separate, related story by Bischoff in the DDN, entitled 'License bingo' a popular pursuit for gun owners:

Gun rights advocates call it "license bingo" — the game they play to get exactly the right combo of states' concealed weapons permits that will allow them to legally take their hidden guns all the way to Florida or Pennsylvania or other states.

Firearms instructor John Farquhar said it's not unusual for students to ask which state permits they need to legally carry concealed weapons for their entire vacation route.

"You have to have a scorecard to know what's what. And anything can change at any time so you have to keep up on it," said Farquhar of West Elkton in Preble County.

With only an Ohio CCW permit in your wallet, you'd be forced to disarm at the state lines of Pennsylvania or Georgia, or on the way from South Dakota to North Dakota.

Forgiving Bischoff for her use of misleading or incorrect terms such as "hidden guns" (poll-tested code phrase used by the gun ban lobby to describe the carrying of a concealed handgun by a licensed, law-abiding citizen) and "Ohio CCW permit" (Ohio issues a concealed handgun license - CHL - not a concealed weapons permit), her story does a great job of proving just how concerned people who obtain these licenses are about following the law. (Try to imagine the uproar in America if citizens were forced to obtain different driver's licenses for every state they traveled to.)

The story explains that in order to ensure they are fully compliant with the law, persons concerned about self-defense (Bischoff stereotypes them all as "firearms enthusiasts") often add licenses from states that issue licenses to nonresidents, and which have different reciprocity agreements than Ohio.

Again, from the story:

For example, Utah allows nonresidents to take a Utah course in their home states and then apply for a Utah permit that is valid in 29 states, including Ohio.

Ohio has reciprocity agreements with 18 states.

"Literally, we call it 'license bingo' because you have square one, two and five but you need square three and four," said Ken Hanson, legislative director for the Buckeye Firearms Association and a certified instructor for Ohio and Utah.

In total, Mr. Hanson spent about 30 minutes on the telephone educating Ms. Bischoff about this issue, and yet the best points made in her stories are ones she no doubt had no intention of making. The stories and an accompanying poll question take the form of a push-poll - i.e. they provide a biased version of the facts, and follow up with a leading question constructed to produce a desired result (in this case, the DDN website asks "Should Ohio drop its agreement with Utah about concealed weapons permits?"). Even so, judging by the feedback logged on the site thus far, their attempts appear to have failed.

For persons interested in the subjects of reciprocity and out-of-state licenses, Buckeye Firearms Association offers a spectacularly detailed examination of the reciprocity and out-of-state license issues in Lesson #21 of our Education Guide, entitled Non-Resident Licenses: When the Ohio Concealed Handgun License Isn't Enough. The article, by BFA volunteer Ken Cormack, attempts to explain the concept of non-resident concealed carry licenses and permits, describes the application processes for some of the states that offer them, and lists the factors you should consider when choosing which non-resident licenses to obtain.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

Previous examples of Bischoff/DDN coverage on the gun issue:
DDN story on Attorney General's armed driver exposes need to eliminate no-guns zones

Dayton Daily News: Fight rages on gun disclosure

Dayton Daily News: Gun lobby shows clout in Ohio

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