FLASH: Ohio Senate passes SB239 (Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix) and SB247 (Restoration of Rights)

The Ohio Senate has passed Senate Bill 239, which will allow citizens who hold a valid concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry a firearm in restaurants. To do so, license holders may not consume any alcohol and must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to OpenCarry.org, 42 states (including every state that borders Ohio) allow non-drinking license holders to carry firearms in restaurants.

The bill also reduces burdensome restrictions regarding how a license holder must transport a firearm in a car. Currently, Ohio is the only state to place such complex limitations on license holders.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 247, which seeks to align Ohio law with federal statutes regarding the restoration of rights to Ohio firearms purchasers.

Ken Hanson, Legislative Chair of Buckeye Firearms Association, said, "These bills addresses three important issues facing Ohio gun owners and concealed carry license holders and seek to align Ohio law with federal law and the laws of our surrounding states."

Having passed with a 23-10 margin in the Senate, SB239 will now be taken up for consideration in the Ohio House, where the House Public Safety and Homeland Security committee has already held several hearings testimony on the House's version of restaurant carry (House Bill 203).

Likewise, SB247, having passed with a 23-10 margin in the Senate, will also now move to the Ohio House for consideration.

Senate vote tallies will be posted here when available.

Buckeye Firearms Association strongly urges the Ohio House expedite passage of these bills, and to send both to Governor Strickland before the summer recess.

SB239 - Voting "Yes":

Steve Buehrer (R-1)
Capri Cafaro (D-32)
John Carey (R-17)
Gary Cates (R-4)
Kevin Coughlin (R-27)
Keith Faber (R-12)
Teresa Fedor (D-11)
Bob Gibbs (R-22)
Karen Gillmor (R-26)
Tim Grendell (R-18)
Bill Harris (R-19)
Jim Hughes (R-16)
Jon Husted (R-6)
Shannon Jones (R-7)
Tom Niehaus (R-14)
Tom Patton (R-24)
Tim Schaffer (R-31)
Joe Schiavoni (D-33)
Bill Seitz (R-8)
Jimmy Stewart (R-20)
Mark Wagoner (R-2)
Chris Widener (R-10)
Jason Wilson (D-30)

SB239 - Voting "No":

David Goodman (R-3)
Eric Kearney (D-9)
Dale Miller (D-23)
Ray Miller (D-15)
Sue Morano (D-13)
Tom Sawyer (D-28)
Kirk Schuring (R-29)
Shirley Smith (D-21)
Fred Strahorn (D-5)
Nina Turner (D-25)

SB247 - Voting "Yes":

Steve Buehrer (R-1)
Capri Cafaro (D-32)
John Carey (R-17)
Gary Cates (R-4)
Kevin Coughlin (R-27)
Keith Faber (R-12)
Teresa Fedor (D-11)
Bob Gibbs (R-22)
Karen Gillmor (R-26)
Tim Grendell (R-18)
Bill Harris (R-19)
Jon Husted (R-6)
Shannon Jones (R-7)
Eric Kearney (D-9)
Dale Miller (D-23)
Ray Miller (D-15)
Tom Niehaus (R-14)
Tom Sawyer (D-28)
Joe Schiavoni (D-33)
Bill Seitz (R-8)
Mark Wagoner (R-2)
Chris Widener (R-10)
Jason Wilson (D-30)

SB247 - Voting "No":
David Goodman (R-3)
Jim Hughes (R-16)
Sue Morano (D-13)
Tom Patton (R-24)
Tim Schaffer (R-31)
Kirk Schuring (R-29)
Shirley Smith (D-21)
Jimmy Stewart (R-20)
Fred Strahorn (D-5)
Nina Turner (D-25)

Media Coverage:
Associated Press - Ohio Senate OKs concealed guns in bars

Firearms owners with the proper permit would be allowed to bring concealed guns into establishments or events where alcohol is served, under a bill the Ohio Senate has passed.

The measure was approved by a 23-10 vote on Thursday, despite objections from groups representing Ohio sheriffs and police chiefs. The legislation bars the concealed carriers from drinking any alcohol, but the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police says policing that will be difficult.

The bill’s supporters in the Republican-led Senate say change is needed in the current law because prohibiting concealed weapons in bars and restaurants turns those places into “victim zones” where citizens can’t protect themselves.

The legislation now heads to the Ohio House, controlled by Democrats.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer - State lawmakers pass bills that would allow concealed carry in bars, tax break for medical mart

The Ohio Senate passed a bill that would allow concealed-carriers to pack guns in bars, restaurants and sporting events selling alcohol, while House lawmakers passed a property tax break for Cuyahoga County's new medical mart and convention center.

The pair of Statehouse votes Thursday wrapped up a busy week of legislating and politicking as state lawmakers scurried to clear the decks of key business before breaking for the summer next week.

By a 23-10 vote, Senate lawmakers approved the measure allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry their guns into places that sell alcohol. The measure now moves to the Ohio House.

The Columbus Dispatch - Guns in bars are closer to reality

After another gun debate - the kind that has played out in every legislative session for the past decade - a bill allowing permit holders to carry concealed guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol passed the Ohio Senate yesterday.

Arguing that such establishments become "victim zones" because no one is armed, Senate Republicans, joined by a few Democrats, voted 23-10 for the bill. It also would loosen restrictions on how permit holders are allowed to carry guns inside their vehicles.

The bill now goes to the Democrat-controlled House.

Senate Bill 239 is the latest in a series of legislation approved in recent years that chips away at the limits established when Ohio's original concealed-carry bill was passed six years ago.

Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, a joint sponsor of the bill, said Ohio is one of only a few states that prohibit permit holders from carrying guns in places that serve alcohol.

The bill would still allow restaurant and bar owners to ban guns from their businesses. It also prohibits those who carry guns from consuming alcohol.

"This refinement of our concealed-carry laws is a logical next step to help our citizens legally protect themselves and their families," Jones said. There are about 185,000 concealed-carry permit holders in Ohio.

Others didn't see it that way.

"The notion of allowing folks to carry concealed weapons into liquor establishments - restaurants and bars - does not make common sense, nor does it make safety sense," said Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland. "Just because our state is in the minority on this does not make us wrong."

The bill was opposed by a number of major state law-enforcement associations, including sheriffs, police chiefs and the Fraternal Order of Police.

In a statement to lawmakers this week, John Gilchrist, legislative counsel for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, asked who is supposed to check whether a permit holder is drinking or not.

"An individual could have a few drinks before arriving at the restaurant and not be in violation," he said.

"Other states have done this and have not had a problem," said Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, noting that off-duty law-enforcement officers are generally allowed to drink without removing their weapons first.

"At the end of the day, if you're going to Applebee's, I don't think you want criminals to know that Applebee's is a 'victim zone,' a place where they don't have to worry about people being able to defend themselves."

The bill also eliminates requirements that a gun either be locked up or holstered while a permit holder is traveling in a vehicle. The law still would prohibit the person from touching the gun during a traffic stop.

The Dayton Daily News - Gun permit-holders step closer to being allowed to carry guns in bars, restaurants

Ohioans with concealed carry weapon permits are one step closer to being allowed to carry guns in bars and other venues with liquor permits.

On Thursday, May 27, the Ohio Senate approved legislation allowing the changes, and Gov. Ted Strickland supports the bill and is ready to sign it, according to his spokeswoman Amanda Wurst.

First, however, the bill has to be approved by the Democratic- controlled House and approval appears uncertain. The vote in the Republican-controlled Senate was 23-10.

The bill still allows bar and restaurant owners to keep guns out by posting signs prohibiting them. Also, the permit-holder carrying a gun wouldn't be allowed to drink.

Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, joint sponsor of the bill, said foes of Ohio's concealed carry law, in effect since 2004, predicted it would turn the state into the "wild West" and that hasn't happened.

"The next logical step" is to let permit-holders protect themselves and their families in bars and restaurants, she said.

Some law enforcement groups oppose the bill, and Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, said lawmakers should listen to them.

"Who better to tell us whether this bill will be a hindrance to safety ... than the men and women in this state who serve us as law enforcement officers?" Turner asked.

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer supports the bill and says that permit-holders are responsible gun owners. "I think it puts pressure on bar owners to raise their awareness to make sure people aren't drinking alcohol," Plummer said. "But I've never had an issue with a CCW holder because they know the law."

The Newark Advocate - Schaffer concealed-carry bill passes Ohio Senate*

Senate Bill 239, which clarifies how weapons must be carried in a vehicle and allows concealed weapons to be carried in restaurants that serve alcohol in certain cases, passed the Ohio Senate on Thursday.

"SB 239 brings Ohio's concealed carry laws in line with those in many other states while reaffirming law-abiding citizens' constitutional rights to protect themselves and their families," Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said in a news release. "Since Ohio's concealed carry laws were enacted in 2004, the increase in violent crime and other criminal activity that some predicted has not come pass, and the changes we are making today will improve the law while making it easier for all concealed carry permit holders to follow."

Joining Schaffer as lead sponsor of the bill was Sen. Shannon Jones, R- Springboro.

*This same story also appeared in The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette.

Ohio News Network - Senate Passes Bill Allowing Concealed Carry Of Guns In Restaurants

Right now it's illegal to carry a concealed weapon into an Ohio restaurant, but that could soon change.
"My initial reaction is it opens up a can of worms," said Stewart Miller, a restaurant general manager in the Arena District. "This is going to be just one more thing we have to manage."

Miller also said he's frustrated that lawmakers are changing the law without listening to the businesses it will affect, ONN's Jim Heath reported on Thursday.

"Who did they talk to to start thinking this is something we should be spending time on?" Miller said. "Who did they listen to that said that's probably a good idea?"

Others said it is time for the law to change.

"If you look at all the surrounding states of Ohio none of them restrict carry in a car and none of them restrict carry in a restaurant. So it's a change that is well past due," said Ken Hanson, spokesman for the Buckeye Firearms Association.

Hanson has been lobbying for the bill for more than a year. It has the strong support of the National Rifle Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry.

Supporters also include Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

"We don't have Democrats, we don't have Republicans. We have pro-gun legislators and a pro-gun governor. I'm confident we can deliver this to the governor in an appropriate bill and get his signature," Hanson said.

However, that isn't sitting well with the state's largest police union.

"I am kind of appalled that they keep coming back to these issues," said Mark Dunn, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police. "It just comes down to the fact that these are absolutely huge safety issues for law enforcement everywhere."

Miller said it may cost businesses too.

"You're talking an extra $300 to $500 a week we might have to employ somebody to stand around and look and watch," Miller said.

The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association also oppose the bill.

If the bill becomes law, you cannot drink alcohol in a restaurant while carrying a concealed weapon.

The bill also reduces restrictions on how a gun owner must transport firearms in a car.

WBNS (CBS Columbus) - Senate Passes Bill Allowing Concealed Carry Of Guns In Restaurants

Guns could soon be on the menu in Ohio restaurants if a proposed law is approved.

Ohio Senate Bill 239 passed the senate on Thursday. If approved, it could lift restrictions, allowing those with concealed carry permits to bring guns into restaurants that serve liquor, 10TV's Lindsey Seavert reported.

Gun rights advocates said most Midwestern states already allow guns in restaurants, and that it is time for Ohio to follow suit.

The bill has raised some concerns, Seavert reported.

The Ohio Restaurant Association opposes the measure, and said guns in establishments serving alcohol pose a risk.

Stewart Miller, the general manager of brewery and restaurant Gordon Biersch said lawmakers should listen to concerns from the industry.

"It opens up a can of worms, just one more thing we have to manage," Miller said. "It might be something we have to incur extra labor and have somebody managing a busy Friday Saturday night an off duty policeman or a bouncer or something like that."

The Buckeye Firearm Association said the change is long overdue.

They said that those carrying guns would not be allowed to drink under the proposed law, and that restaurants would have the option to opt out of allowing patrons with guns.

"They can get a piece of tape and stick a sign on the door that says 'No guns' and they don't have to worry about it, just that simple," said spokesman Ken Hanson.

If it passes, Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to sign the measure into law, Seavert reported.

WCMH (NBC Columbus) - Concealed Carry & Alcohol

The Youngstown Vindicator - State Senate passes changes to concealed carry law

The Ohio Senate passed legislation Thursday that would allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons into bars or restaurants, so long as they are not consuming alcohol.

Senate Bill 239 passed, 23-10, and heads to the Ohio House for further consideration.

The legislation includes two provisions: one related to where firearms are stored in motor vehicles and one allowing concealed carry in establishments covered by liquor permits.

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